South Side establishing identity


Four games into the Nassau County girls’ soccer season, South Side coach Judi Croutier realizes her team is still developing its personality.

The Cyclones are undefeated at 2-0-2 heading into this week’s action, but the finished product could be well off.

It's not how a team performs in September, but how it fares in late October in the playoffs.

"Our expectations are to make it further than last year, to come together as a team in the playoffs and make a run for it," Croutier said.

Two years ago, South Side made a run for it, winning Nassau and Long Island titles before losing the state Class A final. Last year the Cyclones were eliminated by Long Beach by penalty kicks in the second round of the playoffs.

Still, this could be a memorable season for the squad. The Cyclones have 16 seniors returning, compared to only three on the team last year. Their three captains comprise the spine of the team - forward Nora Basile, midfielder Reese Haley and defender Charely Doreste.

"They've been leaders before this year," Croutier said. "They have a great soccer IQ. They're athletic, they are skilled. They really took ownership of the team this year, starting with our World Cup clinic over the summer with the youth in the town. They're enthusiastic about this year. They want to work.”

Three other seniors are expected to play vital roles - speedy midfielder-forward Hannah Porter, defender Morgan Harloff and Avery Testa, who is playing her fourth year in goal.

The Cyclones' two wins were at a Niskayuna, N.Y. tournament as they defeated Shaker, 3-1, and Jamesville DeWitt, 2-0. Basile, Porter and junior Sarah Schaefer scored against Shaker. Bobbie Creo and Sienna Connolly tallied against Jamesville DeWitt.

"We were able to see a lot of players," Croutier said. "We were able to play everyone on the roster up. So far, we're ahead of the game where we were last year."

They tied both of their Nassau matches - 0-0 against Syosset on Sept. 7 and 1-1 versus Garden City on Sept. 13. Porter scored against Garden City.

This week, South Side goes from zero to 60 with three games in five days, playing three consecutive road matches - at Massapequa on Monday, MacArthur on Wednesday, and Manhasset on Friday.

By the end of the week, Croutier should have a better idea of what this team is all about.

One thing Croutier has learned in all her years of coaching - don't take anything for granted. South Side might be synonymous with winning; the team captured eight Long Island championships and five state titles in her firs tenure with the team. But that doesn't necessarily mean the squad will come out on top every season.

"You want to get to the counties, you want to get to each step, but it's a privilege," she said. "It takes some skill, some talent and a little bit of luck. You need a couple balls to bounce your way. You need to peak at the right time, be on the front foot and have limited injuries. So much has to go right for that to happen. Some people take it for granted."