For the second time this week, our girls’ soccer team scrimmaged a giant as Miller Place, a Class A school, walked onto the Stony Brook pitch this morning. The girls played well and, had the starters played the entire game, it may have gone in the books as a win instead of a 3-3 draw, but Coach Maningo was wisely more concerned about giving every player on the team some game experience than with the outcome of a scrimmage in early September.
The opening frame was very even as both defenses established themselves early with ours limiting the Panthers to only one shot on goal. Brianna Stiklickas was her usual stellar self, chasing down seemingly every ball that made its way past the midline, and Madison Rylands continued to impress with her play. The Bear offense had several open shots that missed wide, the best opportunity coming on a great touch pass from Donna Liotine to Michelle Hennessy who just missed the goal to the left. Coach Maningo was pleased with their play saying to the girls, “Not a bad twenty minutes right there.” | 0-0
Stony Brook’s offense knocked at the door in the opening quarter. In the second period they kicked it open. Our attacks came in waves and did not allow the Panther defense to catch their breath. On the opening possession Gianna Scavo gave a great feed to Liotine and only a solid save from the goalie prevented Stony Brook from drawing first blood. Liotine got another chance a minute later and did not miss her opportunity, burying a shot out of an unsettled situation. Five minutes later, Liotine found the net again, reminding everyone why she was 14th leading scorer on Long Island last season. The Bears may have relaxed a bit after going up 2-0 because soon after Liotine’s second tally the Miller Place offense reawakened and began to pressure All-State keeper Danielle Pappas. With five minutes left in the quarter, the Panthers finally found nylon on a beautiful shot that had to go into the upper right corner of the goal to elude Pappas. With under a minute left before the half, Miller Place threatened again and came within inches of equalizing, but Rylands was in the right place at the right time and swept the ball away from the goal. | 2-1
The third frame was a sloppy one for both sides as neither offense displayed much order. Much of the quarter was a stalemate as the few opportunities each side had were squandered until Stony Brook squandered away its lead as they failed to clear the ball, opening the door for an equalizer by the Panthers with only 30 seconds left in the period. With seconds remaining Hennessy put a great shot on goal but found only the keeper’s gloves. | 2-2
Stony Brook began the final quarter with an altered formation. Danielle Pappas vacated her position in goal for backup Nicole Willoughby and relished a rare stint in the field. Miller Place kept their starters in, including their impressive goalie. The Panthers began the period with several close chances at a goal, the second one nicking the left post and rolling harmlessly out of bounds. The Brook was the first to seize control when Kierran Petersen displayed her full repertoire, leaving the defensive end, carrying the ball deep into enemy territory, and sending a beautiful left-footed cross into the box that Scavo did not waste, giving the Bears a 3-2 lead. Coach Maningo continued to cycle out the Blue and White starters in favor of younger players, to give them more experience. Without some of our stars protecting the lead, it felt as though it was only a matter of time before the Panthers tied it, which they indeed did with five minutes left in the game. The visitors had several chances to take the lead as the fourth quarter waned, but Willoughby was impressive in goal, making two sliding saves that stymied Panther threats. | 3-3
Our girls looked like the stronger team today and had this been a real game I am confident they would have prevailed. I was impressed with the unselfishness on offense. Liotine, Hennessy, Scavo, and Kelsey Wentling on more than one occasion forfeited an opportunity at a shot in favor of giving it to a teammate who had a better look. Our offense had more shots on goal than the Panthers and seemed to have the advantage in time of possession. It looks as though we are going to score goals in bunches this year. The defense did well as a whole without Brannon Burke, who was taking the ACT, but several simple breakdowns led to Miller Place goals. I am confident the defense will continue to improve as they gain more experience and better understand the scope of their roles both individually and as a unit. The girls’ next matchup will be their first real match of the year, a non-league tilt at Mt. Sinai. Let the title defense begin!