West Hempstead clings to playoff hopes


After heartbreaking playoff overtime losses in each of the last two seasons, the West Hempstead girls’ soccer team appeared ready to regain its status as a contender for the Conference AB-3 title, which the program claimed four years ago.

But that plan may have to wait another year.

The Lady Rams have just one win this season through Oct. 9, but remain alive for a postseason berth because of their Long Island-leading six ties, including a scoreless deadlock at Division on Oct. 6. West Hempstead had draws in its first three games of the season, as well as the last three contests.

Scoring has been an issue for the Lady Rams this season with just eight goals through the first 10 games. They have been shut out in half of their matches, including a three-game stretch from Sept. 16-26.

“We’ve had a difficult time scoring this year,” coach Mike Scaturro said. “We have two new forwards who are very fast, but they can’t really create good chances, so now we’re trying to change systems up a little bit. We’re playing well, but we can’t seem to score [or] get a lead.”

Junior Shyla Burrell has found the back of the net four times, including a hat trick in West Hempstead’s lone win of the season, 3-0 over Bellmore JFK on Sept. 28. She scored again four days later in a 2-2 tie against Jericho.

“Shyla is very fast so I have to leave her up front,” Scaturro said. “She is a threat with her speed.”

Senior Taylor D’Alessandro, has scored twice, including a second-half penalty kick conversion that helped her team knot Bethpage 1-1 on Oct. 4. She also had the lone goal in a 1-1 tie against Division on Sept. 14.

D’Aleassandro has seen action at both midfield and forward and will be heading to Iona next fall on a soccer scholarship because of her strong defensive play.

Junior goalkeeper Sydney Reitz, who has manned the net since her freshman year, has had four double-digit save performances and is another reason why West Hempstead remains alive for a playoff spot. Reitz stopped a Bethpage shot attempt at the buzzer to preserve the Oct. 4 tie and two other stops late in the previous match against Jericho.

“She’s a good goalkeeper,” Scaturro said. “It kind of picks everyone up when she makes a big save.”

After Tuesday’s match at Friends Academy, which held the final playoff spot as of Oct. 9, the schedule concludes with more challenging games at New Hyde Park on Oct. 12 and against first-place Mepham five days later. The Lady Pirates handed West Hempstead its worst loss of the season, a 4-0 whitewashing on Sept. 26.

“We’re just going to try to get as many points as possible,” Scaturro said. “We’re just trying to sort things out and try to make the best of it the last couple of games, keep rowing the boat and see if we can get more consistent up top.”