They all knew it was coming, but none of them can believe it is really here. Seniors on the Blue Devil girls’ soccer team find it hard to fathom that their Huntington High School careers are drawing to a close. So the teenagers were quite emotional on Senior Day as head coach John Walsh waxed poetic about each of them.
Seniors Lena Annunziata, Riva Bergman, Beanna Cumella, Alexandra Gerbavsits, Caroline Hartough, Marissa Stafford and Jennifer Zeron-Salmeron were all recognized during a post-game ceremony.
“I have been waiting for this day since I began my high school soccer career,” said Gerbavsits before the season finale against Longwood. “I can’t believe that I’m going to be putting on my soccer uniform one last time. Being a Blue Devil athlete will always be special to me. These past five years have been an amazing opportunity that I’m never going to forget. Once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil.”
Coach Walsh started all of the seniors in the game as a tribute to everything they have meant to the program over the years. Most of them have played soccer for Huntington since seventh grade.
“Playing this sport and wearing this jersey has meant so much to me,” Hartough said. “Playing soccer has taught me so much over the years. The time I spent on and off the field has been so memorable and the bond that is created during the soccer season is one I will never forget.”
Underclassmen teammates created beautiful posters commemorating the career of each senior. The posters were affixed to the façade of the bleachers.
“Wearing the Huntington uniform and playing for the Blue Devils over the years has been about so much more than soccer,” Annunziata said. “It has meant being a part of a family that works hard towards a common goal as well as having each other’s backs through everything on and off the field.”
Following the game against Longwood, players, parents and coaches headed over the Blue Devil Stadium field house where a Senior Day ceremony was held on the track. Walsh spoke about each of the seven seniors, complimenting their commitment to the program, work ethic and hard play.
“I have been playing soccer since I was four years old and to think that this might be my last game ever is devastating,” Cumella said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my high school years with any other team and am so grateful to be a Blue Devil.”
Senior Day is always a teary-eyed affair and so it was on Wednesday as Walsh and assistant coach Vincent Tannazzo, players and their parents were all choked up at one time or another.
“I never thought that this day would come by so soon and here we are as seniors playing our last game,” Zeron-Salmeron said. “Wearing this uniform has honestly been such a great honor representing our school. Playing for the Blue Devils is such a blessing.”
Parents put out a spread of food and drinks for a post-game party. All in all, it was a great afternoon at Blue Devil Stadium and one that will always be remembered by the seniors who were wearing a Huntington soccer uniform for the last time.
“For the past four years, I have played with the best,” Bergman said. “The best and most fun coaches and my best friends for life. I have had so much fun with every moment of every game and every moment on and off the field. I will miss playing soccer every day. I love this team.”
In the season finale on Senior Day, Huntington and Longwood battled to a 2-2 tie that neither team could break even through two overtime periods. Stafford had a goal and an assist. Annunziata also scored and Bergman added an assist. Goalie Charlotte Maggio made 11 saves.
“Playing for the Huntington soccer team during my four years of high school has been the best experience,” Stafford said. “I made such amazing friendships and memories that will last forever. I could not imagine high school without playing soccer each fall. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.”