Friday, 23 October 2009 00:00
With only a few games to go, the Mineola Lady Mustangs soccer team is closing in on a potential Conference Championship with contributions coming team-wide. Varsity coach Katherine Hock-Bennett has built an offensive powerhouse with defensive stability as she attempts to take Conference VII by storm. With season closing matches on the horizon against Carle Place and Locust Valley, Mineola’s two closest pursuers, the Lady Mustangs will have to convert ties to victories to ensure a place in the playoffs. At press time, the squad sports a 6-0-3 conference mark, leaving them a notch ahead in the standings but with a huge dose of confidence heading towards post season play.
The juggernaut starts with senior captain, All-Conference returnee Sami Stavish. Stavish was last year’s leading scorer but this year her speed and footwork has been put to better use providing assists and defensive support. As a leader, Sami is cognizant that her contributions must come from all facets of her game. The beneficiary of her unselfishness is sophomore forward Alicia Mercurio, a rising star for the Lady Mustangs, who has produced goals at an alarming rate (including four in a game versus Lawrence). Mercurio has not lost a step in speed from last year’s injury and has the ability to beat any defender in the league. Junior Kayla Vesely returns to the midfield as a crossing specialist from the wing.
Junior Megan Brady fills the gloves of last year’s star goalkeeper, Alesa Kolenovic. As a first year starter, she has posted three shutouts and has yet to give up more than two goals in a contest. Megan has the advantage of its other captains, junior Kalie Medlock and senior, All-Conference player Rachel Furuya marking in front of the posts along with senior stoppers Kristen Hock and Dana Klein. Kalie is the team’s teeth of the defense and her determination allows few players inside of her while Rachel monitors the opposite flank with heart and intensity. Hock and Klein are mirror images of one another and are renowned for their knack of clearing the ball from the box.
The team would not be successful without unsung heroes and this year they have come in droves. Junior forward Katie Dul has had key goals as playing time has increased including a game-winner with 25 seconds remaining against Malverne.
Sophomore forward Kerri Medlock blossomed late in the season with goals in key games against Carey, Carle Place and Great Neck North. Likewise, freshman midfielder Nikki Massaro has cracked the scoring column with a late season flurry. Senior midfielder Samantha Basile has provided a similar boost in the assist column.
This year’s crop of young women replaced eight seniors and six starters without missing a beat. Initially, finishing plays on the offensive end was in question but the diversity in scoring and consistency of effort has diminished that concern. Beginning the season as the fourth ranked conference competitor, the goal of proving opponents wrong was accomplished. No matter what happens down the stretch, this Lady Mustangs team has trumped adversity and has begun a resurgence in Mineola girls soccer.