Quitting was never an option. The Huntington girls’ soccer team showed the grit and determination of a champion when it rallied from a two goal halftime deficit and forced three overtimes before falling to host Comsewogue on penalty kicks in a Suffolk Class AA playoff game last Saturday.
The Warriors took a commanding 2-0 first half lead before goals by Huntington junior Paige Lennon and senior Katie Seccafico knotted the score and sent the game into overtime. After three dramatic extra frames, the contest was finally settled on penalty kicks with Comsewogue edging the Blue Devils and ending their season.
“Although it’s a great disappointment not moving on in the playoffs, I’m very proud of our team for coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the second half,” sophomore Marissa Stafford said. “This game really showcased how the team never gave up and worked hard until the last whistle. The bond that was created throughout the season is unbreakable and the memories that were created will last forever.”
Huntington qualified for the playoffs earlier in the week with the Blue Devils toppled visiting Smithtown East on Senior Day, 3-2. Saturday’s game at Comsewogue featured a rare 9 a.m. start, which required players to be at the high school very early in the morning for the ride to Port Jefferson Station.
“We started off slow last Saturday, but didn’t let that get us down,” senior Amber Stieve said. “We came back with a great effort from everyone. It felt like everyone was against us, but we worked through it. Even though we lost, I think our team really left it all out on the field to end the season. It was a great season. We all worked together so well and adjusted to all the teams. We played with every team and never let up. It was a great last soccer season and I’m sad it’s over, but happy my last year was with this great group of girls.”
Huntington closed the season with an overall mark of 6-6-2. The Blue Devils didn’t have many easy games on their schedule as Suffolk League III is filled with tough squads.
Coaches John Walsh and Vinny Tannazzo were almost hoarse by the time Saturday’s game had finally been decided. The Blue Devils spectacular freshman goalkeeper Ainsley Lumpe was once again magnificent, recording 10 saves while casting aside intense pressure to be perfect.
“We had a really great game on Saturday,” senior Emma Greenhill said. “It’s unfortunate that we came out of it with a loss, but we were down 2-0 at the half and managed to make a comeback and go into three overtimes. This season we really proved ourselves and showed people how good we are. I’m really proud of the entire team for making it as far as we did.”
Huntington outscored its opponents by a 21-17 margin this fall. The team featured 14 seniors on the roster. A dozen underclassmen are eligible to return to the varsity.
“Throughout the season there was never a dull moment on the team,” Lennon said. “We had an amazing year. The girls worked very hard on and off the field. Our last game showed how far we have come from the beginning of the season. We’ve worked so hard to get where we were and it was obvious. Throughout the entire game it was very intense. There was also a lot of pressure, especially when going into triple overtime. Everyone left it all out on the field. I am so proud of everyone on the team and look forward to what next year has to bring.”
Players will need some time to decompress after such a competitive season. It included all the ups and downs that one might expect of a high school sports team.
“I think it was a very emotional season as it was my senior year,” Grace Connell said. “So much effort and heart was in this season because we are all seniors and really wanted to win. We worked so hard all season and lost on penalty kicks, which is hard to accept. I’m so proud of us though for getting to the playoffs and winning our last game of the season, which was amazing. I can’t imagine there will be no more high school soccer for so many of us.”
The hardest part of dealing with last Saturday’s loss for so many of the players is that since they are seniors, this marks the last time they will wear a Huntington soccer uniform.
“Words can’t describe how immensely proud I am of my team,” senior Nicole Abbondandelo said. “Coming back from a two goal deficit truly shows how much heart our team plays with. Unfortunately the deciding factor in Saturday’s game came down to penalty kicks, which is a very intense situation for the shooters and the goalie especially. We must keep our heads held high and look back at all we have accomplished throughout this season. I am confident that next year our underclassmen will exceed everyone’s expectations as we have a lot of skilled players returning.”
The seniors know they will also belong to the Blue Devil soccer family, but they wish this season could have lasted just a little bit longer.
“It’s sad knowing I won’t be playing for Coach Walsh and Coach Tannazzo again as they have been great influences in my life, but I will never forget the memories I made on and off the field during the soccer season as a Blue Devil,” Abbondandelo said.
None of the players will ever forget last Saturday’s game. “The whole team gave it their all,” senior Catie Ricciardelli said. “It is disappointing it had to end with penalty kicks, but it showed we were in it until the end. The bar is now set high for next year. I wish the best of luck to the underclassmen.”
Blue Devil players are a resilient bunch. They will bounce back quickly.
“Saturday’s game was a tough loss, but we never gave up and came back from a two goal deficit to go into overtime and a shootout,” Seccafico said “We truly left everything on the field. This season has been the best one yet. I’m truly going to miss soccer. I’m happy that we made playoffs being such a tough league. I couldn’t have ask for a better team.”