The Freeport girls’ soccer program is looking to continue the momentum established during last fall’s second-place conference finish.
The Lady Red Devils’ quest to take that next step this fall with a league crown kicked off on a strong note with a 1-0 win against Uniondale last Saturday. Fourteen players return from last year’s 6-2-1 team hungry for a playoff berth after just missing out on the postseason last year because of two losses to eventual Conference AA-III champion Long Beach.
“I think we’re going to build on last year,” said Freeport coach Chris Doherty, who took over the program after coaching JV the past several seasons. “If we can stay injury free I think we can be a very competitive team.”
Senior captain Mia Almonte is primed for a big fall after earning All-Conference honors last season with nine goals. Almonte leads the Red Devils on and off the field with fellow captains Tyler Hawkins, Ashley Peralta and Lenox Pinczehelyi.
“They reflect my intensity toward playing this game,” Doherty said of his four captains, who are among nine returning All-Academic honorees. “The other girls on the team follow their example.”
The Red Devils boast plenty of speed that can generate scoring chances in their 4-4-2 formation. With much of the defensive attention focused on Almonte, Doherty hopes Peralta, senior Kelly Perdomo, junior Melissa Moreno, sophomore Tatianna Austin and freshman Ancksu Dixon can emerge as additional offensive threats.
“Speed is a big strength of this team,” said Doherty, a former longtime soccer coach at Nassau Community College. “Our goal is to play strong defense and use our speed to attack.”
On the defensive end of the field, Pinczehelyi and senior Nakacee McNab anchor a strong backline that shut out Uniondale in Freeport’s 1-0 season-opening win last Saturday. McNab also showed her scoring ability when she tallied the game-winning goal off an assist from Hayley Matthews with a minute left in the second half.
Hawkins patrols the net and is off to a strong start in her junior campaign. The starting goalie was instrumental in Freeport’s season-opening win with eight saves on the day.
Freeport’s quest to earn a playoff berth was made further challenging this season when Conference AA-III and AA-II were combined. The deep seven-team league features Long Beach, Oceanside, Plainview JFK, Westbury, Uniondale and Hempstead. The Red Devils will need to win the conference in order to reach the playoff stage in late October.
“We like being in a competitive conference,” Doherty said. “It is going to be a challenge since we have to be just about perfect, but we are up for it.”
Freeport is next in action this Friday at Westbury for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff. After returning home to face Hempstead Monday at 4:15 p.m., the Red Devils will then be challenged with a Wednesday evening home match against AA-II contender Oceanside at 6 p.m.