Long Beach on a mission


This fall is “revenge season” for the Long Beach girls’ soccer team.

Months after being knocked out of last spring’s playoffs in heartbreaking fashion, the Marines are on a mission to make this season one that ends with a new banner hanging in the school gymnasium. But they’ll have to do it playing in a different conference with a new coach and a rebuilt defensive backfield.

So far, it seems like the more things change, the more things stay the same for the Marines, who are unbeaten in their first three games (2-0-1). Last spring, the team rolled through a 12-0 regular season before yielding a goal with 54 seconds left in a 3-2 Nassau Class A outbracket playoff loss to Lynbrook, which had just one win entering the contest.

Coach Mike Santoro stepped down soon after and was replaced by Ashley Castanio, a former goaltending star for Oceanside High School and Stony Brook University. Castanio has never coached at the high school level, but knows she can stick with the same formula that has been working with some touch-ups here and there.

“I tried to change some stuff up a little bit, but not too much,” she said. “You can’t fix what’s not broken. The girls are great. We just did a lot of team bonding, trying to keep some stuff in place that the girls enjoyed, but develop my own style with it.”

And the girls made one thing very clear to their new leader.

“One of the first things they told me was that this is their ‘revenge season,’” Castanio said. “They were definitely ready to go, so I picked up on that vibe for sure.”

Long Beach was ready from the get-go with four goals in the opening 10 minutes en route to a 6-0 whitewashing of new Conference A3 foe Jericho in the season opener. The Marines then denied Floral Park’s bid for a three-game winning streak, with junior Samantha Kolb netting two second-half goals to complete the hat trick in a 4-3 win on Sept. 14.

Four days later was the much-anticipated rematch with Lynbrook. Sophomore midfielder Emma Larson celebrated her first varsity start by converting Ava Kolb’s crossing pass for the only tally of the first half, but Lynbrook tied with about nine minutes left in regulation and the game finished in a 1-1 tie. Senior goalkeeper Alexandra Hastings also starred with 11 saves.

“She was a beast all day,” Castanio said of her netminder.

Samantha Kolb already has five goals this season after netting 14 last spring, and eighth-grade sister Ava had two of her own against Jericho. Kayla Carney, Rylee Roberts and Samantha Addeo also scored for the Marines this season.

Hastings has 17 saves this season and has been supported by a new defensive corps that had three starters graduate last spring. Natalia Hakimzadeh and Jocelyn Bravo returned, and Castanio moved freshman Aysu Unver and senior Carolina Hardy to center back.

“I’m trying to get that core four back there,” Castanio said.