Despite a talented roster in 2018, the North Shore girls’ soccer team finished last place in Conference I and moved the perennially successful crew back to Conference II for the 2019 season.
“We had a lot of injuries last year and were playing very good teams game after game,” coach Lauren Gotta said. “Now, we’re focused on being one of the top teams in Conference II.”
Although North Shore has graduated talented players such as Cailley Welch, now a member of the Hofstra Pride women’s soccer team, it returns a litany of young, yet experienced, talent.
Indeed, senior captains Gabby Scott and Ryleigh Gilligan lead the team, but younger players that have been on the roster sheets for years still bring unique elements that opposing teams must prepare for.
Juniors Isabella Tedesco, Madison Berry and goalkeeper Giuliana Graziosi have all played on varsity since eighth grade, and have seen key minutes in games for years.
“Having all of these girls, this core, playing together for so long, its super beneficial,” Gotta said. “They help to develop the younger players and give them confidence.”
One of those younger players who will have a lot of confidence this year is freshman Arianne Guss. Arianne, the younger sister of Ashton, is already being lauded as someone that the rest of the team looks to. “She is definitely one of our leaders and is very good and improving,” Gotta said.
Gotta admits that bringing younger girls up to varsity is a byproduct of the school’s smaller student population size, but believes it results in positive experience early for her girls. “By the time they get to be juniors, they get you because they’ve been here for a while,” Gotta said. “ They start to understand more and more every year, and then when it’s their time to play more and more, they are ready.”
Despite moving down a division, that does not mean North Shore’s days of playing tough competition is over. “It is not going to be easy, a lot of the teams are very tough,” Gotta said. “We may see some weaker teams at the bottom of Conference II, but teams like McArthur and Bethpage are tough challenges.”
North Shore will still see at least one playoff game with the way the Nassau County playoffs works, however it is very likely that the Lady Vikings will have to play all of their possible playoff games on the road. They would have to finish first in Conference II to have a chance at a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
“This group has a lot to work on, but the goal is to win,” Gotta said. “We will be prepared for the first game, and by the playoffs, we’ll be ready for that too.”
When asked if she was weary about playing Conference I foes in the playoffs, Gotta was adamant. “We know them,” Gotta said. “Any team we play from Conference I, we’ve seen them before. We have that experience in that conference before, and that is key for our success.”