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West Hempstead looks to improve from .500

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The 2018 season was a good one for the West Hempstead girls on the soccer pitch. The Rams gave up one or fewer goals in 11 of 14 matches and finished with a respectable 6-6-2 overall record in Carlos Mery’s first year as coach.

A young, talented team should be in the mix come playoff time in 2019. After last Saturday’s 3-1 league victory over visiting Floral Park, a match that saw West Hempstead dominate in terms of possession soccer, the Rams are 1-1 early in the season. Sophomore Juliana Glaudino had a pair of goals in the opening half to lead the way.

Seaford, which knocked off the Rams in the season opener, and Friends Academy figure to be among the conference’s elite teams. The Rams will also battle with the likes of Division, Oyster Bay, Carey in Nassau Conference AB4.

“We have a lot of underclassmen, so of course there will be some growing pains,” Mery said. “We have raw talent, but we’re coming along. After losing to Seaford, we spent a good amount of time looking at film and corrected a lot of mistakes. When we play our style of soccer, we’re possessing the ball and playing to our strength.”

Senior Monica Loeffler, a natural forward, stepped up to the challenge of serving as goalkeeper. Loeffler is aggressive, good with her feet, and is improving at the position every day. Her confidence with the ball gives West Hempstead an edge when it comes to securing possession.   

Eighth-grader Amy Flores has great speed and touch on the right side of the team’s wingback formation. Sophomore Emma Shinsato plays the left side. Shinsato has tremendous endurance and a good first touch. Junior Sophia Baiamonte, a defender that Mery believes can play at the college level, has speed and excellent field vision. 

West Hempstead is solid on the interior. Sophomore Victoria-Grace Leconte has size, speed, and strength. Leconte, who marks the opponent’s top scoring threat, kept Floral Park’s Samiya Reid in check. Reid entered play averaging nearly four games per match.

Sophomore Mackenzie Cates is the team’s holding midfielder, and she’s a good one. Cates is an outstanding defender who possesses amazing ability to turn with the ball and always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Senior left-side midfielder Ivanna Salazar is a box-to-box player who can run all day.

At right-side midfielder, senior Kristine Romero is a tough-nosed defender who does anything to win balls. Sophomore Catherine Andree can play anywhere on the field. Andree has the innate ability to see the field and find open teammates.

Glaudino is the go-to scorer. She sniffs out opportunities and finds the back of the net. Opponents will struggle to keep up with fleet-footed sophomore Ashley Palmer. With Glaudino, Palmer, and freshman Gianna Cardillo, the Rams are strong at forward. Senior Mirtha Sevilla is the team’s super sub.

West Hempstead hosts Carey on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 4:30 p.m.