VSS makes history with title

Posted

A day before a matchup of Cinderellas in the Nassau Class A girls’ soccer championship game, Valley Stream South sacrificed a few minutes of practice time to view banners hanging on the gymnasium wall.

“We counted 10 county titles in school history, and the only one of those for girls’ soccer came in 2000,” coach Demetri Adrahtas said. “We set a goal back in June to add another banner.”

On Halloween night, the 18th-seeded Lady Falcons completed their magic carpet ride to the crown with a 2-0 victory over No. 8 MacArthur before a packed crowd at Cold Spring Harbor. Sophomore midfielder Mia Asenjo scored 3:18 into the game and again in the 17th minute as South capped a perfect 18-0 run against its Nassau opponents.

“We felt all along this was something we could accomplish, and it really feels amazing,” said Asenjo, who attended Holy Trinity as a freshman before transferring back to South to play alongside longtime friends. “Beating Island Trees in the first playoff game gave us even more confidence,” she added. “We’re a close-knit team and work well together.”

The Lady Falcons, who beat Islip, 1-0, last Saturday night on an Asenjo goal to take the Long Island crown, became the lowest-seeded team in Nassau athletics history to bring home a title. In addition to No. 15 Island Trees, they knocked off second-seeded South Side, No. 7 Mepham and third-seeded Wantagh on the way to the finals.

“This is where we wanted to be from day one,” said junior Bryana Pizarro, who scored twice in the semifinal win over Wantagh, giving her 30 goals on the year. “I don’t think it’ll take long to sink in,” she added. “It’s exciting. We beat some of the best programs.”

MacArthur, which eliminated top-seeded Calhoun in the quarterfinals followed by No. 4 Manhasset in the semis, finished 13-4-1. “The effort was there,” Lady Generals coach Jamie San Filippo said. “We fell behind early and weren’t able to capitalize on some chances. In the end, we lost to a stellar team. They have so many weapons, it’s hard to mark them all.”

Junior Alexxis McNeil set up Asenjo’s first goal, a 20-yard blast over the outstretched arms of MacArthur junior keeper Shannon Kilian (10 saves) that ricocheted off the crossbar and into the net. The second goal, a hard blast along the turf, came from nearly the same spot.

“Anyone who didn’t know it before tonight knows how special a talent Mia is,” Adrahtas said. “This is someone we could be watching play in the Olympics down the road and talk about how she scored both goals in the county final as a 10th-grader.”

MacArthur’s best scoring opportunity came on a penalty kick with 2:18 remaining in the first half, but the attempt sailed over the crossbar. Working behind a defense anchored by senior Lindsey Smith, a four-time All-County selection, senior goalkeeper Natalie Peralta made five saves.

“It’s incredible,” Adrahtas said. “When we beat South Side, I think it erased any doubt in anyone’s mind, including ours, that we belonged and had what it takes to go all the way.”