Swimmer Earns Gold At State Championships

 Northport High School junior Chloe Stepanek swam to gold in the 100M and 200M freestyle events at the NYS championships.

Northport High School junior Chloe Stepanek swam to gold in the 100M and 200M freestyle events at the NYS championships.

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

Northport junior Chloe Stepanek made waves at the Girls Swimming and Diving State Championships, winning first place in both the 200 and 100 yard freestyle, earning the title of “most outstanding athlete” at the meet.

Stepanek held nothing back at the State Championships, hosted at Ithaca College on Nov. 17. The energy was electric in the pool, with the bleachers packed and cheering for races. Stepanek set a personal best in the 100 freestyle, thanks to the rowdy spirit.

“It gets you pumped up and ready to swim,” Stepanek said.

Before the State Finals, Stepanek raced in preliminary rounds to secure a good lane in the pool and test her speed abilities. The day of finals, she remembers feeling excitement as she prepared in the “ready room” and walked out to her race. She was supported by the other girls from Suffolk’s Section XI who qualified for the meet. The swimmers all traveled together and are friends from club teams.

“The state meet definitely has a lot of energy and is one of the most fun high school meets we have,” Stepanek said. “Just being with your section and having the whole section cheer you on, everyone is really supportive.”

 Stepanek shows off some of the hardware she brought home from the state championships.

Stepanek shows off some of the hardware she brought home from the state championships.

Stepanek went into the meet with little rest, preparing for States with intense training, but still represented her school with first place wins and high placing relays.

“While you are there to swim and compete, you want to make sure you enjoy your time with your team and have fun with your friends,” Stepanek said.

Even after winning the 200 freestyle, Stepanek feels there is room to improve her time.

“There were still things I came away from it with that I can work on, like my starts,” Stepanek said. “Even when you have a good time, you look at things you can improve on to go faster.”

It is crucial for her to train hard if she wants to drop time, along with weight training, eating well and getting enough sleep. Stepanek plans to continue her training and compete with Long Island Aquatic Club.

“Teammates are a very big part, I couldn’t train without them,” Stepanek said. “It’s very hard to swim by yourself, you need your teammates to motivate you during practice and to make it fun.”

As a junior, Stepanek still has one more season to prove herself at State Championships and beat her current times.

“I can’t believe it’ll be my last year of high school swimming, it’s really sad,” Stepanek said. “I can’t believe I only have one more year, but I’m gonna make the most of it, have a lot of fun with my team, and swim fast to see how fast I can really go.”

Thunderbirds Set To Roar This Season

 Hills East’s Thunderbirds are on track to have a superb season, says coach Peter Basel.  Photos/Phil Orlando

Hills East’s Thunderbirds are on track to have a superb season, says coach Peter Basel. Photos/Phil Orlando

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The boys varsity basketball team at Half Hollow Hills High School East is ready to kick off their season with high hopes for the future and a strong starting five.

So far, the team has scrimmaged against West Islip, John Glenn, and Westbury, teams that have each presented their own challenges to overcome. Head coach, Peter Basel took this time to observe his players in action and has made adjustments to tighten up their plays and clean up mistakes. He felt the team was improving from game to game.

“These guys will recognize in each other strengths as they keep playing together and getting use to each other’s game,” Basel said.

Last year, the team had a sensational season, winning the Long Island Championship and making it to State Finals.

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Only two players have returned from last year’s starting five. Captains, Max Caspi and Shane Dean, the only players with experience starting, are role models to other players. This early in the season, Basel is still fitting all the pieces of his team together.

He plans on completing the starting five with Shamar Moore-Hough, Sam Russo and Grant Pitcoff. Last season, these players were backups, but this year, the boys are all rising to the challenge of their final season.

Shamar Moore-Hough played “phenomenally” during scrimmages and Basel is excited to see what he does this season. Sam Russo will start at point guard, a position he has been handling well so far, leaving Basel feeling confident in his abilities.

Grant Pitcoff will take the court as a starter forward. Basel said Pitcoff has grown taller, stronger and more confident in his game.

“It looks like we’re headed in the right direction with those three guys, as far filling out that starting five,” Basel said.

Basel brought up talented junior varsity players and two 8th graders to the team. In his 17 years of coaching, Basel has never had two 8th graders make the team, but feels it is justified with the skills and physicality both posses. Dante Green and Christian Bliss proved themselves playing with the team during the offseason, and Basel believes they will be an asset to the team right away.

“It’s warranted with the validity of these players skills and talents,” Basel said.

This season the team will play 16 league and four non-league games. Basel admits this is the most games he has seen on a schedule, making it crucial for the players to not become worn out.

“It’s important to give rest when rest is needed,” Basel said.

In his 17 years as head coach, Basel said his teams are most successful when he allowed his players time to relax. As the season progresses, he plans to give them time off during the weekends and breaks from school.

“We work them hard early in the season, then kinda cut it down once the second league game comes around,” Basel said. “I like to keep the kids fresh. I’m always throwing new drills at them and they’re always chomping at the bit to learn new drills to spice practices up.”

The team is able to lay off later in the season, since the players put in so much hard work during the offseason. The boys have been practicing and playing together since the summer league at St. Anthony’s and continued to train at Hills East’s fall ball.

“It gives the boys more opportunities to play together, work on their skills and represent Hills East to keep the tradition of winning going on,” Basel said.

This season, the team’s goal is to win the League II title for the third year in a row. After that, the team hopes to progress in the playoffs and “let the chips fall where they may”.

The team is most looking forward to playing against Northport, Smithtown West, Bay Shore and Connetquot, teams that will all give them a challenge. The team’s first games of the season will be against Bayport, Dec. 6 and East Meadow, Dec. 7.

Hills West Brings Home The LI Title

 The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team celebrates its 34-6 victory over Plainedge in the Long Island Class III title game at Hofstra University on Nov. 24.  Photos/Phil Orlando/Half Hollow Hills

The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team celebrates its 34-6 victory over Plainedge in the Long Island Class III title game at Hofstra University on Nov. 24.
Photos/Phil Orlando/Half Hollow Hills

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team showed that defense really does win championships on Saturday when they defeated Plainedge 34-6 to claim the Long Island Class III title.

The Colts halted Plainedge’s 11-game winning streak at Hofstra University, holding the Red Devils to just 6 points all game.

Junior running back Justin Brown scored the first points of the game late in the first quarter when he broke through the defense for a 75-yard touchdown run. Brown scored again in the fourth quarter and rushed for 166 yards in the game.

 Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi avoids a tackle during the Colts 34-6 victory over Plainedge.

Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi avoids a tackle during the Colts 34-6 victory over Plainedge.

The game exploded into life late in the second quarter when senior running back Deyvon Wright extended the Colt’s lead with a 7-yard touchdown run.

The Red Devils responded with their only touchdown of the game less than a minute after Wright’s touchdown run, but Plainedge wasn’t able to celebrate for very long. Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi showed off his versatility when he returned the ensuing Red Devil kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown.

After the scoring flurry, Hills West took a 20-6 lead into the locker room at the end of the first half.

The Colts quickly extended their lead at the start of the third quarter when Wright capped off the opening drive with a 49-yard touchdown run.

Plainedge’s second quarter touchdown was the first and only hiccup for the Colts defense.

Linebackers senior Michael Carubia and junior Joey Venezia were strong in the heart of the Colt defense. Carubia led the team with tackles, while Venezia had seven.

Junior defensive back Eliot Porter helped keep the Plainedge offense off the field with two interceptions in the game.

Brown’s fourth quarter touchdown run finished off the 34-6 victory for the Colts, the team’s second in program history.

“Our hard work showed today,” Wright said after the game. “I’m proud of me and my guys.”

Seahawks Win First LI Title In 13 Years

 The Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks celebrate their Long Island Class IV title after defeating Shoreham-Wading River 42-20 at Stony Brook University on Nov. 23.

The Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks celebrate their Long Island Class IV title after defeating Shoreham-Wading River 42-20 at Stony Brook University on Nov. 23.

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Five years ago the Cold Spring Harbor Football team had only one win to celebrate at the end of their season. The team completed a remarkable turnaround last Friday when they defeated Shoreham-Wading River to capture the Long Island Class IV title.

“I’m so proud of you,” coach Jon Mendreski told his team after the game. “Every one of you guys deserves this.”

The Seahawks hoisted the Long Island championship trophy for the first time since 2005 after a dominant performance in which they scored 42 points against a usually stout Wildcat defense.

Quarterback Ray Costa opened the scoring for the Seahawks with 12-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Thomas Milana.

Cold Spring Harbor’s defense also set the tone early in the first quarter, forcing the Wildcats to punt on their first drive.

 Senior tight end Aidan Adomaites celebrates after catching a seven-yard touchdown pass for the Seahawks.

Senior tight end Aidan Adomaites celebrates after catching a seven-yard touchdown pass for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks faced a challenge in the second quarter as the Wildcats began to gain some momentum on offense, but Costa and the Seahawks offense kept pace.

After the Wildcats tied the game with just over three minutes to play in the second quarter, the senior quarterback led the Seahawks on a touchdown drive that finished with a seven-yard pass to senior tight end Aidan Adomaites in the end zone.

The Seahawks led 21-14 at halftime, and senior running back Danny Striano helped the team pull away in the second half.

Striano rushed for three touchdowns from 1, 2 and 38 yards in the second half on his way to 215 rushing yards in the game. Striano’s performance on the ground helped the Seahawks dominate possession and the clock in the second half during which the Wildcats managed to score only one touchdown.

“Everyone did their jobs out there, and we were extremely motivated,” Striano said.

The Seahawks racked up nearly 400 yards of total offense in the win.

The Long Island championship was the third in program history for the Seahawks, who finished the season 10-2.

Fight For Charity Scores A Knockout

 Huntington’s Grant “The Bull” Havasy and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios raised money for charity as part of the Long Island Fight for Charity.

Huntington’s Grant “The Bull” Havasy and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios raised money for charity as part of the Long Island Fight for Charity.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Bright lights lit up the boxing ring as the crowd roared for the 15th annual Long Island Fight for Charity, but the main event wasn’t just in the middle of the ring, it was the many charities and people this fight would be helping.

The Fight for Charity has become a staple fundraising event on Long Island, garnering hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to support the Long Island Community Chest and other charities chosen by boxers.

This year the fight featured 24 local business people in 12 bouts as volunteer boxers. The Township of Huntington was represented by Grant “The Bull” Havasy, Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, and Michael “Boom Bots” Zaharios.

“When we step into the ring, it’s all about Huntington pride,” Havasy said.

O’Mara is a seasoned pro who fought in 2015 for Fight for Charity. But for Havasy and Zaharios, stepping into the boxing ring to fight was a new experience that brought both excitement and some nerves.

“Coming here today has been a surreal experience, seeing the amount of people in there,” Havasy said. “It still hasn’t totally hit me yet but when I glove up and get my gear on, then it’ll hit.”

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The night began with the National Anthem, which brought all the boxers to the ring to see the massive audience that awaited them. Havasy found the crowd motivated him to do better because he didn’t want to let down his supporters.

“It’s always good to have nerves,” Zaharios said.

The boxers were eager show off the hard work they put into six months of training.

“This is the most difficult sport, conditioning, mental and physical that I’ve ever done in my life,” Havasy said.

But the boxers admitted the benefits of fighting for chaity far outweighted the pain.

“I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m down 55 pounds and never been better… It’s given me more confidence in myself and I’ve made great friendships along the way” Zaharios said. “It’s been a positive adventure.”

The fight didn’t yield just physical benefits for the boxers, but a chance for them to fundraise for charity with a goal of $10,000.

“It’s not the normal way of helping out, it’s a fun and active way to help,” Zaharios said. “It’s something I’ve never done before but as long as it benefits others I’m happy to do it.”

The Long Island Community Chest directly benefits families on the Island who are in need of assistance with housing and other financial needs.

“It is such a special experience to see how the charities are affecting people,” Havasy said. “The money we give, actually impacts their lives and that was the drive to keep going harder.”

Seahawks Soar To Nassau Title

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By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

For the first time in 13 years the Cold Spring Harbor football team is headed to the Long Island Championship.

The highflying Seahawks defeated Seaford 27-7 last weekend in the Nassau title game after losing to the Vikings at the same stage last season.

Head Coach John Mendreski said his team used last year’s loss to Seaford as motivation going into last Friday’s game at Hofstra.

“We’ve had that in our minds the whole year, to get back to the game and beat the team that beat us last year,” Mendreski said. “It was one of our goals.”

The Seahawks defense dominated the Vikings for the first three quarters and allowed only seven points all game.

Senior defensive back Thomas Milana’s interception stopped Seaford’s opening drive and set the tone for the Seahawks defense.

On offense, the Seahawks running game overpowered the Vikings defense.

Senior running back Daniel Striano had his break out game of the season after previously suffering both a back and knee injury.

Striano was the feature back for the Seahawks. He scored three unanswered touchdowns on the ground to give the Seahawks a commanding lead. He rushed the ball 16 times for 134 yards and three scores.

Quarterback Ray Costa contributed 39 yards on seven rushing attempts, while Striano’s younger brother junior Richie Striano rushed for 24 yards.

The Seahawks took a 19-0 lead into the fourth quarter, and a 48-yard rushing touchdown by Jacob Bruno ended Seaford’s comeback attempt and secured the 27-7 victory.

The Seahawks are set to travel to Stony Brook University on Friday at 4:30 p.m. to take on the Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River for the Long Island Division IV title.

Mendreski said he feels the match-up is a winnable one, and his players are exicted to be “the group who has got us back there.”

“We’re just trying to make sure everyone keeps their emotions under control, the excitement or nerves, whatever it may be. We have to treat it as you would any other game,” Mendreski said. “Adrenaline will be flowing but we’ll make sure they stay in control.”

Despite the emotion, Mendreski wants his team to enjoy the experience.

“We’ve told them this week just to enjoy the bus ride out there, enjoy the locker room and take a look around to take it all in,” he said. ““Win or lose it’s an honor to be there.”

Colts One Win Away From LI Title

 The Colts celebrate victory with their coaches at the Suffolk County Class III championship game Nov. 17.  Photo by Phil Orlando

The Colts celebrate victory with their coaches at the Suffolk County Class III championship game Nov. 17. Photo by Phil Orlando

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Half Hollow Hills West football team will go for it all at the Long Island championship this weekend following a 21-10 win over Westhampton in the Suffolk County title game.

The team will bring an 11-1 record to the Long Island Class III Championship game against the Nassau champs from Plainedge High School on Nov. 24, 4:30 p.m. at Hofstra University. The Colts have had their eye on this game all season long, their coach said, but always kept their focus on the present.

“You never think about being there, you just focus on the process,” assistant coach, Chris Blumenstetter said. “You don’t climb a ladder by grabbing at the top, you go rung by rung, and that’s how you get to the top. You don’t look ahead and take it week by week.”

Getting ready for the big game, the team has implemented the same routine they have gone through every week: studying plays and preparing on and off the field.

“Our preparation doesn’t change based on the opponent because it’s about the process,” Blumenstetter said. “We’re confident in our preparation process, regardless who is on the other side.”

The coach credits the team’s success this season to the players buying into the culture and system head coach Kyle Madden and his staff have preached.

“You can’t function as a unit without a basis of love and trust with each other… We’re really seeing the benefits of a group that is getting exponentially better on a daily basis,” Blumenstetter said.

 

 Freshman running back Dakim Griffin (#20) rushing in one of his team-leading 19 attempts against Westhampton.  Photo by Phil Orlando

Freshman running back Dakim Griffin (#20) rushing in one of his team-leading 19 attempts against Westhampton. Photo by Phil Orlando

The staff has been relentless in sticking with their coaching system, no matter the circumstances and it has paid off. Players put dollar signs on the top of their helmets in the second week of playoffs to remind them of the ultimate goal.

It’s a reminder that “eventually when all of this sinks in and the kids buy in, we will reap very big rewards,” Blumenstetter said.

The team is led by captains Jake Cetta, Michael Carubia, Keith Slaughter, Justin Brown and Joey Venezia, who were chosen to lead the team during the offseason by assistant coach, Rich Pryhocki. Even in the pre-season, it was clear the boys could lead the team to victory, said Blumstetter. Senior quarterback and safety Gerald Filardi has been one of the most consistent leaders for the Colts.

Senior linebacker Michael Smith has worked   harder to become stronger. This season, he has seen major reward for his commitment and moved into the role of defensive leader on the team with the number one defense in Suffolk County.

“They just want to keep playing together,” Blumenstetter said. “This is a special group who loves each other.”

 The Colts claim the win as the clock runs out in their 21-10 victory over Westhampton in the Suffolk County Class III championship.  Photo by Phil Orlando

The Colts claim the win as the clock runs out in their 21-10 victory over Westhampton in the Suffolk County Class III championship. Photo by Phil Orlando

Many of the team members have played with each other since childhood, but those who are newer have still been welcomed into the team as family.

“When you spend more time with each other than you do with your own family, then it really just clicks,” Blumenstetter said. “Whether it’s the team breaking out into a dance in the middle of practice or them having team dinners together on Fridays.”

The county championship was Hills West’s fifth consecutive county title appearance, and a repeats of last year’s matchup against Westhampton.

“It’s a whole new year and new circumstances,” Blumenstetter said. “Last year has no bearing on this year and every week is a new challenge, regardless of what happened in the past.”

The Colts will play their final game together at the Long Island Class III Championship on Nov. 24.

“I just hope the boys can reflect on four great months that they’ve had with friends they’ll have forever, coaches that’ll love them forever and can look back on their career and not regret a single thing,” Blumenstetter said.

Whitman Boys Are County Champs

 Roberto Alfaro scored the game winning goal to earn Whitman boys soccer team the Suffolk County Championship in its 2-1 win over Newfield.

Roberto Alfaro scored the game winning goal to earn Whitman boys soccer team the Suffolk County Championship in its 2-1 win over Newfield.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Whitman boys soccer team has a new trophy for the case. The Wildcats’ 13-3 season ended with a Suffolk County championship.

The team ended the regular season second in their league to secure a playoff berth. Head coach John DiGiacomo said at the start of the season he knew he had a talented team, but emphasized the hard work the boys put in to get to the top.

“We knew we were a playoff team,” DiGiacomo said. “It was just a matter of where we fell in to defeating those teams.”

The team battled through three rounds of playoffs to make it to the title game. They won against Bellport, 3-0, then went to Brentwood, a well coached team. In the next round, Commack, a tough team with fast, physical players gave the Wildcats a run. The win over the Cougars earned Whitman a trip the Suffolk County Championship against Newfield. It was an intense, 2-1 victory, and DiGiacomo commends his players’ passion and athleticism.

“They were just a really well-rounded, talented group of young men… We have a great core of really good players, it definitely helped build the bond,” DiGiacomo said.

During the Championships, Roberto Alfaro scored the Wildcats their first goal with an assist from Jason Quintanilla. The game-winning goal came from Richard Morel who “blasted” a free kick. Morel, who is a sophomore forward, scored 14 goals during the season, a high number for his class. Goalie, Sean Rankel made 10 saves to ensure their victory, many during the final minutes of play.

“We relied upon hard work all season and we definitely had some talent,” DiGiacomo said. “They were a tight knit group, I had some great leaders, my four captains. Those guys kinda brought everybody together.”

His captains, midfielder Wilmer Dominguez Funez, forward and midfielder Nikolas Cerrito, defender Anthony Paredes Trujillo, and forward and midfielder Jordan Perez Hernandez are all considered top players.

DiGiacomo has coached soccer at Whitman for 18 years, with one year as the assistant coach before moving up to head coach. Along with that he coaches varsity bowling and teaches physical education at Stimson Middle School. This year, two of his 2015 State champion players came back as assistant coaches.

“We moved some players to different positions that we thought would help us in the beginning of the season,” DiGiacomo said. “We changed some things around and played a little bit of a different formation than we normally do, so there was a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning.”

Their triumph at the Suffolk County Championship advanced them to the Long Island Championship where they played Port Washington. Unfortunately, this game was “not meant to be” and the team lost 2-1.

“The boys still have a lot to be proud of,” DiGiacomo said. “Not many teams can say they were Suffolk County champions… State championship or not, we are extremely proud of what they have accomplished. It will go into Whitman history.”

Due to an extreme season schedule, eight of their starting players were battling injuries ranging from shin splints to a foot fracture. DiGiacomo believes that if the injuries had not persisted, the team would have had a better chance of winning.

“The season was an extremely difficult season, it’s 16 games,” DiGiacomo said. “At one point, we played seven games in 14 days, and anybody that knows the game of soccer knows you shouldn’t play seven games in that many days.”

Looking ahead, DiGiacomo will see 17 of his 27 players graduate, leaving only 10 returning players. But he feels good about the players moving up to the varsity. The junior varsity squad ended with a 15-1 record.

Now, it’s all about making sure the new players are prepared for varsity games, that have bigger and more experienced players competing. DiGiacomo considers the offseason to be “absolutely crucial” and would like to have his team play together during this time. He also encourages his players to hit the weight room, which will make them stronger and bigger.

“If the guys work hard, fight for each, work on improving every day, and listen to our coaching methodology then hopefully we can put them in a best place to win in playoffs,” DiGiacomo said.

Local Boxers Throwing Punches For Charity

 Long Island Fight for Charity volunteer boxers with the event’s founders at an event to announce the match-ups.   Photo/Corbett Public Relations

Long Island Fight for Charity volunteer boxers with the event’s founders at an event to announce the match-ups. Photo/Corbett Public Relations

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Put your mitts up and get ready to rumble. The Long Island Fight for Charity, a fundraising event that sends amateur boxers into the ring to duke it out for a good cause, is set for Nov. 19.
The 15th annual Fight for Charity is looking at another successful year of fundraising for the Long Island Community Chest, a charity that benefits local individuals who are struggling to get by. The event raises funds through ticket sales, sponsorship, advertising and fundraising done by the volunteer boxers.

“There are many people living on Long Island who need help… We have to consider ourselves fortunate for what we have and it’s important for us to give back to our community and help those who are less fortunate,”  Fight for Charity co-founder Jamie Austin said.

Austin, Jeff Cohen, and Matt Silver dreamed up the event when former boxer Cohen wanted to get back in the ring. Austin joked that he and Silver could be a good undercard match. This sparked the idea to bring business people together for a fun but serious match to raised money for charity. The boxers participating are dedicated to helping others, even if it means getting physical.

“We get new business people every year who are interested in supporting their local community,” Austin said. “They’re willing to learn how to box and we train them with professional trainers. They’re willing to go into the ring and take punches to raise money for charity.”

The 24 boxers will fighting a total of 12 matches, with each pair clashing for three short rounds. More that 1,000 spectators are expected to watch the bouts, which will see several local boxers in the ring. Representing Huntington township are Grant “The Bull” Havasy, Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara and Mikey “Boom Bots” Zaharios.

 Boxer Grant “The Bull” Havasy of Lloyd Harbor is managing partner of Blue and Gold Homes & Builder Funding.

Boxer Grant “The Bull” Havasy of Lloyd Harbor is managing partner of Blue and Gold Homes & Builder Funding.

“After learning its mission, I volunteered to be a charity boxer in a memorial for Vincent Alterbrando, Walt Whitman High School teacher and wrestling coach,” Zaharios of South Huntington said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community, plus I will get to better myself both mentally and physically.”

The Fight for Charity also doubles a networking event. Attendees can mingle throughout the night of the event, with “boxing as its keynote speaker.” They can also enjoy complimentary eats from the food court featuring 25 Long Island restaurants.

“We have a play-by-play announcer, a commentator, some surprise celebrity guests coming this year and music,” Austin said. “This is a full-fledged boxing extravaganza.”

In its first year, the Fight for Charity raised $36,000. This year the goal is $250,000. Organizers are asking each boxer to raise $10,000. Those who go beyond the goal may elect to have half the difference go to a charity of their choice.

 

 Boxer Mikey “Boom Bots” Zaharios of South Huntington is a substitute teacher and coach in South Huntington schools.

Boxer Mikey “Boom Bots” Zaharios of South Huntington is a substitute teacher and coach in South Huntington schools.

 “Fight for Charity has contributed so much to struggling people living on Long Island; I can’t think of a more appropriate cause to be connected with,” O’Mara of Huntington said. “My experience in 2017 was so great. Now I’m getting ready to step in the ring again to throw a few punches in support of the Long Island charities that day in and day out serve those who have the most needs.”

The Long Island Community Chest was founded by Austin and Silver to help people in need. The charity gets referrals from non-profits.

“We wanted to do something where we actually saw where the money went,” Austin said. “The Community Chest helps individuals, we don’t give them money but we help pay their bills.”

The volunteer boxers have been hitting the gym multiple times a week for the past six months to prepare for their matches, with many losing 5-10 pounds and feeling healthier.

“I saw an opportunity to give back to children in need and have something that requires me to train, forcing me to get back into shape,” Havasy of Lloyd Harbor said. “It’s not easy to maintain a workout regimen with a busy work schedule and three kids at home.”

The boxers will be throwing real punches at the Fight for Charity. Austin, who boxed three different years in past events, said the event requires a level of commitment beyond the normal fundraiser.

“It is so out of the norm for so many business people that that’s why I think it’s such an attraction,” Austin said. “If we did bowling… well, anyone can bowl. But not just anybody is willing to train for the six months, get into the ring and get hit.”

The fight will be held Monday, Nov. 19, 6-9 p.m. at the Hilton Long Island in Melville. Tickets can be purchased at lifightforcharity.org.

 Boxer Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, left, is a crossing guard and personal trainer from Huntington.

Boxer Jamie “The Trainer” O’Mara, left, is a crossing guard and personal trainer from Huntington.

Harborfields Field Hockey Finishes Strong

 The Harborfields Field Hockey team after their game with USA Women’s National soccer team player Allie Long.

The Harborfields Field Hockey team after their game with USA Women’s National soccer team player Allie Long.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Harborfields varsity field hockey team has just wrapped up their season and are looking back on it with pride while looking forward to next year’s season with excitement.

The girl’s season finished on Tuesday, Oct. 30 when they played against Miller Place at the Suffolk County Championship game and lost in double overtime. Coach Lauren Desiderio is proud of how her girls played at the game and during the season, closing with a record of 11-5.

“We’re really proud of how well the girls played this year, they really came together as a team and played as a unit throughout the season,” Desiderio said. “I think that really is what led to our success.”

In a game like field hockey, where it takes a team effort to win, it was crucial the girls work together. Desiderio and her staff emphasized team bonding this year, the girls even have a pool party at her house over the summer.

“Stressing to them that being friends on and off the field will help them, especially in tough games like today,” Desiderio said. “Being there for their teammate is the best way to be a teammate, to help their teammate out, to think about what they can do to put their teammate in the best position to do well on the field and their teammates will do the same for them.”

In her quest for unity, Desiderio found having balance among her players was important and didn’t put any player above another. She did highlight the leadership demonstrated by her captains as a contributor for their success. Senior and defense left back, Samantha Huntington, was a returning All-State player this season that led the team with senior forward midfielder, Jenna Bergin and junior center-mid, Caroline Dlugisnky.

The girls were able to lead by example, showing their dedication to the game while putting in hard work during practice. The team typically practices on grass, but played about half their games on turf fields. This required the players to put in extra work the day before turf games, by spending time practicing their plays on a turf field. It may not seem like a big difference, but according to Desiderio, the field changes the speed and what they can do during a game.

“The girls have really learned to adapt to the surface, while sticking to the game plan and our style of play and persevere each game,” Desiderio said.

Desiderio feels her girls know how to handle their wins and loses with class.

“One of the biggest compliments my team got this year is that we are really nice team, we were respectful and had good sportsmanship,” Desiderio said. “As a coach that really meant a lot to hear that from officials and coaches throughout the league.”

After coaching the team as an assistant for 2-3 years, Desiderio stepped up as the head coach in 2010. Before that, she coached three seasons at Fairfield University, where she played Division 1 field hockey. Now, Desiderio teaches social studies at Huntington High School but finds her allegiance to two schools has not been an issue.

“It’s kinda nice to coach in a different district and meet new kids,” Desiderio said. “I have a great relationship with them and even the girls on the field hockey team in Huntington, so that’s nice too.”

This year the team will be graduating a large amount of seniors, like goalie Cate Driver, who had a “fantastic” senior season. But Desiderio is not worried for next year, with great returning players coming back and many fierce competitors moving up from the junior varsity team.

Looking to the future, Desiderio wants her returning players to participate in winter field hockey club teams, to keep the girls playing together. Next year, she hopes the team will make it to the County Championship again and win this time. .

 “We stressed to them at the end of the game, that they really should be proud of how far they’ve come and what they’ve accomplished this season. They’ve done something that no other program that I’ve coached has accomplished,” Desiderio said. “They have to remember what it felt like today and take that as a motivating factor for next season.”

Cougars Fierce In Homecoming Win

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Commack Cougars football team notched an impressive win on Oct. 20 when they defeated the Bay Shore Marauders 28-6 at homecoming.

Both defenses dominated the first quarter in which neither team was able to put any points on the board. Senior Jordan Scott led the Cougars defense with 14 tackles and 4 sacks. Senior William Pizzolo also managed four sacks, while Joe Slackman and Saul Leon added nine and seven tackles, respectively.

The Cougars ability to put pressure on the Marauders backfield helped keep Bay Shore from scoring until the third quarter.

After a slow start, the Cougars offense found their rhythm in the second quarter with the help of a 17-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Adian McCarty to wide receiver Blake Behlen.

The Cougars running game also came to life in the second quarter with a seven-yard touchdown run from junior running back Chris Ioannou, one of his 15 carries for 100 yards in the game. Pizzolo also scored a two-yard rushing touchdown. The senior rushed for 85 yards in the game.

Bay Shore tried to mount a comeback with a touchdown in the third quarter, but a 15-yard touchdown pass from McCarty to Scott quickly stopped the Marauders momentum. McCarty finished with 133 passing yards.

Sal Davi added a field goal in the fourth quarter to cap off the comprehensive victory for the Cougars.

Commack currently sits in fifth place in Suffolk Division 1, and will look to end the regular season on a high note Nov 2 when they travel to Longwood to take on the Lions.

Huntington Devils Smithtown For The Win

Huntington toppled visiting Smithtown East last Saturday on Homecoming Day, 32-20. The Blue Devils came from behind before a crowd of about 2,000.

Special events were held throughout the district in the run-up to Saturday’s festivities. Thursday night’s high school dance proved to be a fun time for everyone, and Friday’s pep rally in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium was a high octane affair as varsity teams were introduced to the student body and faculty to deafening applause. Athletes performed short skits and the Blue Devil marching band and color guard put on an awesome display. There were also performances by the Highsteppers and Ready Step dance teams.

Saturday’s late morning parade drew students and parents from all eight schools in the district marching behind banners. The Blue Devil marching band performed along the parade route, drawing merchants and customers out of stores and onto sidewalks.

Named as this year’s Homecoming Day King and Queen were Danny Arias and Ashlyn Case. The pair were formally crowned by Principal Brenden Cusack and Superintendent James W. Polansky.

“Today was a great day for the Huntington community,” Cusack said. “The weather turned the corner just in time for the parade and every aspect of Homecoming was picture perfect. The football team had a decisive win, the crowd was awesome and the halftime festivities were outstanding. I’m so grateful for all of the effort that went into this weekend to make it a fantastic time for everyone.”

Alumni spanning more than 70 years attended Saturday’s football game against Smithtown East. The group of graduates included more than a few from recent classes.

Huntington quarterback John Paul Paci had his biggest day of the season completing 10-of-15 passes for 275 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown pass to Chad Rowe. The Blue Devils also scored on an eight-yard run by Eric Yards, a nine yard dash by Nasir Youngblood and a 42-yard gallop by Sebastian Abreu. Huntington also found the end zone on a 41-yard interception return by Jack Stewart.

The Blue Devils scored first in the game, but missed the point-after. Smithtown East responded by scoring on a 23-yard run and successfully converting the extra point to take a 7-6 lead. It was all Huntington the rest of the way, although the Bulls did manage to stage a late-game rally that kept the big crowd on the edge of its seats.

Jordan McCoy had four receptions for 125 yards for the Blue Devils and Tazadon Smith and Jon Koumas notched quarterback sacks. While Huntington made some mistakes, including racking up a few costly penalties, overall the team played well.

“It was just a glorious day in Huntington,” Polansky said. “Any threats of inclement weather disappeared in the early morning hours, which contributed to strong representation from all district schools in the Homecoming parade. This was followed by an exciting game on the gridiron, ending in a 32-20 Blue Devil victory over the Smithtown East Bulls. Not to be overlooked were the outstanding halftime performances by the Blue Devil Marching Band and Highsteppers, as well as the crowning of Homecoming king Danny Arias and queen Ashlyn Case. Thank you to all in Huntington for contributing to a terrific celebration!”

Tigers Celebrate Homecoming With A Win

 

A crisp fall breeze and sunny skies were the perfect backdrop for NorthportHigh School’s annual homecoming celebration held on Oct. 20. Students, faculty and members of the community donned blue and gold as they packed Tiger Stadium to demonstrate their pride and support of the district’s football team, who played an aggressive matchup against CentereachHigh School, taking the lead in the first few minutes of the game.

Tenacity and skill reigned on the stadium field as the tigers dominated the CentereachHigh School team with a final score of 35-6.

The day’s celebration commenced earlier in the day with a Hall of Fame induction in the auditorium. Introduced to the community were Max Bartig (Class of 2006), Andrew D’Eloia (Class of 1991), Corinne Gandolfi (Class of 2006), Bryan Quinn (Class of 2003), Jaenine Michealsen (Class of 1986), the 2002 State Championship Girls’ Varsity Volleyball Team and the Northport Tiger Marching Band, Flagline and Tigerettes. Pre-game festivities also included recognition of the football team’s and cheerleaders’ senior members, who presented flowers to a significant other.

The halftime show featured the marching band, Tigerettes and Flagline who performed a variety of popular songs for the crowd. Later in the evening, seniors Trevor Koulemos and Pegeen Friese were crowned homecoming king and queen at the dance.

Spirits Soar In South Huntington

Last week the spirit was building across the South Huntington School District. Daily activities at all of the schools energized students and staff.  When Friday afternoons’ district-wide Homecoming festival was in full swing, it was obvious that 2018 was going to be a special Homecoming. The Thursday night Powder-puff football game broke attendance records and seniors capped off a great football game with a resounding 4th quarter onslaught. The seniors also took the cheerleading competition in grand fashion. The Friday afternoon Homecoming Festival gathered students and staff along with their families from all South Huntington schools for a fun Fall afternoon. The Friday night bonfire was spectacular, thanks to Huntington Manor Fire Department for their management of a safe and thrilling sight.

Each year the Homecoming parade continues to grow, adding community groups, businesses, and numerous organizations as they close down Jericho Turnpike in an annual showing of “Wildcat Pride.”  A perfect afternoon greeted the packed stadium for a football contest to be remembered with both teams commanding the lead and Whitman Wildcats prevailing 28-21. It was a week to remember and a day capped with a win on the gridiron.

“Our district’s collective pride was enhanced and the vision continued to grow this past weekend,” Dr. Dave Bennardo, South Huntington’s Superintendent said. “We are engaged in something very special in South Huntington and Homecoming weekend allowed us to showcase that cause.”

Colts Shut Out Islip In Homecoming Romp

The Half Hollow Hills High School West football team capped off the school’s Homecoming week Saturday afternoon with a dominant 41-0 victory over Islip.

From the first whistle to the last, the Buccaneers were never able to stop the Colt’s running game. Dakim Griffin had 13 carries for the Colts, one of which he broke for a 74-yard score in the second quarter on his way to a 167-yard, three-touchdown performance in the game. Senior running back Sadiq Hinds also featured heavily in the game with nine carries for 62 yards and a score. John Jimenez punched in a one-yard touchdown run to cap off the Colts victory in the fourth quarter. Running back Ross Rampolla added to the ground game with eight carries for 24 yards.

The passing game was also firing on all cylinders. Senior quarterback Gerald Filardi completed five of his 10 passing attempts, including one for a touchdown in the first quarter to Hinds.

Senior Linebacker Jake Cetta led the Colts defense with 10 tackles, while Junior Joey Venezia added eight tackles. Mike Smith had two sacks and Keith Slaughter recovered a fumble to help secure the third shutout of the season for Hills West.

The fast-riding Colts will look to improve to 7-1 in Suffolk Division 3 when they travel to Eastport-South Manor on Saturday at 1 p.m.

St. Anthony's Coach In Final Season

 Head coach Richard Reichert, who is retiring at the end of this season, has led the St. Anthony’s High School football team to 5-0 after a 56-36 victory in last week’s game.

Head coach Richard Reichert, who is retiring at the end of this season, has led the St. Anthony’s High School football team to 5-0 after a 56-36 victory in last week’s game.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

St. Anthony’s varsity football team has had a sensational season so far. Coming off a win in their homecoming game last week they are gearing up for their championship game and the final home game of their esteemed head coach.

The team found themselves victorious at their homecoming game against Cardinal Hayes High School, coming out on top, 56-36. The win put them at 5-0 in their league. The Friars will face the other 5-0 team in their league, Iona Prep, for the Triple A Division Championship, this Friday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at St. Anthony’s football fields.

The game marks the retirement of Richard Reichert, the team’s head coach for the past 32 years.

“The kids realize it’s for first place,” Reichert said. “It’s really one of our goals to win the regular season championship and move on to the playoffs.”

Although, the game does not affect the playoffs, it is still crucial for the team to keep their winning momentum going. Reichert hopes that the team will make in playoffs and believes they have a chance at making it to States this year. Last year, the team made it into the finals before the State game but lost. This season the team may be strong enough to go all the way.

“The coaches have stayed together for a long time and we have great players so it’s been a really good ride,” Reichert said. “It’s my alma mater, and I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience.”

In his time coaching, Reichert feels that the players have consistently given both effort and hard work to their team. But he has had to alter his coaching style.“The game has changed,” Reichert said. “The game is wide open now, it used to be much more of a defensive game and now it’s more of an offensive game with lots of points being scored.”

With this shift, the QB is crucial to to the team. Reichert believes this year he has “the best one around.” Quarterback Greg Campisi has been playing “tremendous” in his third year as a starter, and the coaches give him plenty of freedom. Running back Kyle Angus has been a strong player that has come into his own on the team, scoring five touchdowns in last week’s game and two the week before. The squad’s top receivers are Greg Randall, Danny Parker  and Jaden Jernigan.

“We’re just really balanced, we have a great core of receivers and the quarterback is able to spread it around,” Reichert said.

But Reichert is humble in his abilities as a coach, with an overall record of 264-65-3, he ties for the second most all time wins on Long Island. When asked about this stat, Reichert joked that it makes him feel old. But someone doesn’t have this many wins from time alone.

“We have great coaches and great players, so it was really just the matter of that combination that resulted in a lot of wins,” Reichert said.

A graduate of the St. Anthony's class of 1970, Reichert knew he wanted to come back and coach at his alma mater. After retiring from the Nassau County Police Department with 25 years of service as a police officer, Reichert took up coaching and teaching at St. Anthony's. He has coached for 39 years in the football program, starting as head coach for the freshmen team, then the junior varsity coach and would became varsity head coach in 1987.

Why hang up the cleats now?

“It’s just the right time,” Reichert said. “I have a grandson that I want to see play and my son coaches college football. It was just time.”

Reichert will continue to teach physical education at St. Anthony’s High School and coach junior varsity golf. He will still attend St. Anthony’s football games, he added.

Taking over as head coach is Joseph Minucci, the school’s athletic director and former player for Reichert. For his final home game, three decades of players Reichert has coached will be coming back to the school to pay tribute to their coach. He tries to keep in touch with his past players and has added some to his coaching staff.

“The guys reach out to me and I always love just talking football and mentoring them about what’s really important with coaching,” Reichert said. “It’s not the Xs and Os, wins and loses but it’s about creating the relationships with players.”

Elwood Scores Homecoming Win

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

 

The Elwood John H. Glenn High School football team improved to 5-1 last Saturday when they recorded a 48-21 victory during homecoming over the Phantoms of Bayport-Blue Point High School.

The homecoming victory moves the Knights into second place in Suffolk division 4, and capped off a day of celebration in Elwood.

The homecoming celebrations kicked off with a parade led by the school’s kickline and pep band. Homecoming king and queen Patrick Ancewicz and Haley Eno headed a procession of floats constructed by each class.

After the parade, the crowd filled the football stadium to cheer on the Knight’s high-powered offense.

Glenn dominated the first quarter. Senior quarterback Kyle Szokoli scored the first points of the game, capping off a drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Szokoli had 13 carries for 107 yards in the game. The Knights took a 14-0 lead when Szokoli completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Daysean Johnson.

It looked like the game was going to be close after the Phantoms scored 13 unanswered points in the second quarter, but Glenn extended the led to 21-13 at the half when Szokoli found Johnson with a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Elwood superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert unveiled the first two inductees into Glenn’s new Wall of Fame. Dr. Virginia Cancroft, who served as the principal of Harley Avenue School for 24 years, and the late Master Sergeant Christopher Raguso, a Class of 1997 alumnus who died during a military mission near the Iraq-Syria border in March, became the first two names on the Wall of Fame.

It was all Knights when the homecoming game kicked off again for the third quarter. Szokoli picked up where he left off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to running back Justin Tiernan. Tiernan also had 18 carries in the game for 144 yards and a touchdown.

The Knights defense also stepped up in the second half. Nick Ford recorded two sacks in the game, and Rocco Fratarcangeli had a 20-yard pick-six that gave Glenn a 41-13 lead going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Thomas Giaramita found Johnson in the endzone with a 35-yard touchdown pass, giving Johnson three touchdowns and 75 receiving yards in the game.

Gio Rinaldi and Justin Vega also helped bolster the Knight’s passing attack with 71 and 24 receiving yards, respectively. Sean Ryan added six carries for 45 yards in the victory.

The Knights will face a tough test on Saturday night when they travel to Mt. Sini to take on the undefeated Mustangs at 6 p.m.

Teamwork Key To Commack's Success

 Forward Aidan Keenan gets the head shot for Commack. He’s one of five team captains giving maximum effort this season.  Photo by Robert Williams

Forward Aidan Keenan gets the head shot for Commack. He’s one of five team captains giving maximum effort this season. Photo by Robert Williams

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Spirits are high for the Commack boys varsity soccer team which has dominated the field to stay undefeated this season.

The boy’s record stands at 12-0-1, after a 4-0 win Wednesday afternoon over Longwood. Coach David Moran gives all the credit to his players who put in hard work at practice and during games.

“The kids have played really well so far, there’s a lot of passion and camaraderie,” Moran said. “Looking to get better every day at practice with effort and passion for the game.”

Many of the team members have been playing together since they were 7-8 years old, and many of his seniors have been playing for him for four years. He admits he will be sad to see them leave next season, but feels confident the team will be able to “reload.”

“We’re really deep, we have 16 seniors who show leadership every day and no matter who we’re bringing off the bench we’re getting maximum effort from all the guys,” Moran said.

Five senior captains lead the team: Matt Cozetti, a striker, League I Player of the Year and all regional player last year, leads the team in scoring with 14 goals and six assists. Center midfielder Tyler Meotti is known to control the pace of the game. Striker Aidan Keenan is a strong forward who has scored five goals and seven assists. At a hulking 6’3’’ it is difficult for opponents to cover him. Moran calls his top two defenders “thunder and lightning.” Thunder is center back Liam Rothar, a strong presence in the middle who wins 50/50 balls and headers, playing every game like it’s his last. Lightning is left fullback Matt Newfield whose speed on the fieldis a constant threat. And goalie Brian Mirman, while not a captain, is referred to as “The Great Wall of Mirman.” He has not given up a single goal this season.

 Forward Matt Cozetti is one of 16 seniors on a deep Commack squad.

Forward Matt Cozetti is one of 16 seniors on a deep Commack squad.

 “I’m averaging about 20 kids a game, you start with 11 but have 8-9 subs, with 20 people getting in a soccer game that’s a lot,” Moran said. “Most coaches sub in one or two guys. I’m bringing in a second team that’s just as good.”

Moran began volunteering as an assistant junior varsity coach and took over as coach when he began to teach at Commack High School. He moved up to be the assistant varsity coach and was with the team the last time they won the state title in 2014. He took over as head coach in 2015. He also coaches junior varsity basketball and is an assistant varsity lacrosse coach. But he admits, soccer is his true passion to coach, even though the game requires far more endurance and quick thinking.

“Soccer is a completely different animal in the realm that there’s no timeouts,” Moran said. “So if things are going great, it’s wonderful. But if things are not going great then you have to adjust on the fly, you can’t call a timeout and change stuff.”

The Cougars look to keep their unbeaten streak alive when they travel to Sachem North on Friday, 4:15 p.m.

Colts Thunder To 5-0 Record

 Head Coach Kyle Madden has led the Colts football team to an undefeated 5-0 record this season.  Photo/Half Hollow Hills School District

Head Coach Kyle Madden has led the Colts football team to an undefeated 5-0 record this season. Photo/Half Hollow Hills School District

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The new scoreboard that towers over the turf field at Half Hollow Hills High School West has been alight with some impressive scores this season as the Colts football team has played their way to an undefeated record.

The Colts are currently tied atop the standing in Suffolk Division 3 with a 5-0 record. The Colts’ unbeaten record has earned them the number two ranking in Newsday among small schools Island-wide.

Hills West’s latest victory came last Saturday when they traveled to East Islip and shut out the Redmen on their home turf.

All of the scoring action took place in the first half of the game, with both defenses finding a strong foothold in the second.

Senior running back Sadiq Hinds was the feature back for the Colts in the game, and he asserted his strong running style early. Hinds broke a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give Hills West a 7-0 lead. Hinds had a total of six rushing attempts in the game for 93 yards.

In the second quarter, senior quarterback Gerald Filardi led Hills West on two scoring drives that were each capped off with a big play. Filardi complete four passes for 84 yards.

First, Filardi completed one of his eight passing attempts to junior running back Justin Brown. The catch was Brown’s only of the day, but he made it count. Brown took the pass 55 yards into the end zone to give the Colts a 14-0 lead.

Brown also had eight rushing attempts in the game for 20 yards.

Next, senior running back Deyvon Wright once again showed how elusive he could be in the open field when he turned his only rushing attempt into a 40-yard touchdown run. The touchdown put the Colts firmly in charge of the game with a 21-0 lead at halftime.

The Colts defense came out in the second half determined to protect the lead on the road.

Senior linebackers Michael Carrubia and Jake Cetta each had eight tackles in the game, and Carrubia also managed two pass deflections.

Junior Joey Venezia and Senior Cedric Gordon were each able to beat the East Islip offensive line for two sacks.

Filardi also stepped up on defense late in the fourth quarter with an interception to stop the Redmen from scoring and preserve the shut out and 21-0 victory for the Colts.

Half Hollow Hills West will look to keep their unbeaten steak alive on Saturday when they host Westhampton at 1 p.m.

St Anthonys Soccer Nationally Ranked

 St,. Anthony’s girls soccer team is undefeated so far this season, and nationally ranked by  Top Drawer Soccer.

St,. Anthony’s girls soccer team is undefeated so far this season, and nationally ranked by Top Drawer Soccer.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The St. Anthony’s girls varsity soccer team are in their prime and have no plans of slowing down until they win the New York State Championship again this year.

The team is undefeated this season, with a 7-0 record and many shutout games. Led by coach, Sue Alber, the team has now secured the number three ranking in the country for girls high school soccer from Top Drawer Soccer. After coming off a win with a game against Rich, New Jersey, a team that ranks in the top 20 teams in the nation, the girls are feeling unstoppable.

“Our goal every year is to win the States and I think this year we have the potential to do it,” Alber said. “We’ve just gotta stay focused and make sure every game we play to our ability.”

The team is stacked this year with a lineup of players who all have a lot of talent, according to Alber. She does admit that they have weak spots but her players are able to make up for it. Some key senior players graduated last year, but the team was able to pick up two skilled junior girls as players this year, who could not play previously due to club team commitments.

“I can’t imagine not coaching there, I mean I had a newborn and I came back after four weeks,” Alber said. “People probably thought I was crazy but I didn’t want to miss their season, I have a great senior class.”

She describes the senior class as very strong players, while commending her junior class for being attack minded players. Many of her players are returning from previous seasons, which makes them all well versed in what they need to do to win. Her three senior captains: Lauren Haggerty, Caroline Nuttall, and Brianna Passaro have helped to set an example.

“Our captains and the other players know what it takes to win a State Championship because we did it last year,” Alber said. “So they’ve been very focused and driven, working extremely hard to make sure that we accomplish that and hopefully go undefeated as well.”

This is Alber’s fifth season coaching for the girls soccer team and since she picked up the position has run possession and attacking formations and plays. When she was approached by a board member and a friend whose daughter played there to become head coach, she was intrigued by the school’s high level of skill.

“The school itself is like a college campus, actually probably better,” Alber said. “And the level of talent there is higher than at any public school so I felt like it was a good fit and in the end, I absolutely love it.”

Her top assist and goal score leaders in games are forwards Brianna Passaro and Brianna Jablonowski, who are both “lethal up top”. They are joined by juniors, Victoria Mule and Nicole Gordon who unleash “havoc” on other teams when attacking. The team has been able to prevent opposing teams from scoring with the help of Kaitlyn Mahoney, their goalkeeper. She is aided by midfielder Lauren Haggerty and defenders Christine Fabrizi and Sophia Iaccino, who don’t allow many chances for teams to score during games.

“When you have a lot of talent, sometimes you have that ‘me’ mentality where everyone wants to do it themselves so we’ve set the tone recently, that’s it’s gotta be a ‘we’ mentality,” Alber said. “We’re all working for each other and we’re all playing for each other.”

The team must work together when they face their rival Sacred Heart again this season on their turf, after beating them 2-0 at home. After the team knocked them out of the playoff finals two years ago, their games are “always a very emotional, intense league game.”

But Alber feels confident her team will succeed due to their unity and camaraderie within the team. She describes them as tight knit family.

 “I think we’re just a group of 29 sisters really,” Alber said.