Waldorf's Varsity Girls Soccer Team's season came to a close yesterday when they were outscored 01-03 by Long Island Lutheran (LuHi) in the semi-finals of the PSAA league.
It was a dramatic game and each team put pressure on each other from the opening whistle. Waldorf was shining and each of our starting players gave it their all led by our captains senior Carolyn Smalls, senior Katarina D'Ercole and senior Anne Flomenhaft.
Before the game started, the captains and coaches agreed to give freshman Maria Golebiewski the starting nod in goal and place senior all-purpose player (and Waldorf's usual goalkeeper) Isabella Fraim as the central defender. The move had its rewards as the "four blocks of granite" - senior right-fullback Zoe Bousraou, back sweeper Smalls, junior stopper Jaclyn Proctor, and senior left-fullback Anne Flomenhaft kept the high powered and number one seed LuHi offense under wraps for the entire first half. For the first half, the score remained tied, 00-00. Said Coach LeSueur, "Like a strong tree, Waldorf bent but we never broke."
Meanwhile, the outstanding front running by junior twin strikers Marianna Paone and Sofia Trikas had the LuHi defense on their heels. The midfield of D'Ercole, senior Lexi Van Zant, and sophomore center midfielder Mikayla VerPault sent some great through-balls and made great supporting runs to follow up the strikers. Said LeSueur, "The three of them worked tirelessly the entire game with the help of junior Ajanai Miller Randolph, Trikas, sophomore Sarah Schweizer and freshman Skyla Davis. The LuHi field was 120 yards long - the maximum for a professional soccer field. So the midfield players were the "engine room" and they played with the passion and courage needed to compete against a highly skilled and quick LuHi midfield."
About 25 minutes into the second half, LuHi pushed forward. Waldorf simply could not get a strong foot on the ball and LuHI was awarded several corner kicks and throw-ins deep in the Waldorf defensive third. Finally, LuHi successfully converted a failed clearance and struck the ball just past Golebiewski for a 00-01 lead. "However," said Coach LeSueur, "we cannot and should not forget the heroic efforts under this pressure as Golebiewski made several acrobatic saves with the assitance, speed and toughness of Smalls, Proctor, Bousraou and Fraim - always turning away the LuHi dangerous crosses."
Coach LeSueur's and Coach Kim's plan to push up and move some players around had to be put in place as the team neared the 15-minute mark and were down by a goal. Speedster Van Zant was moved to play the sweeper position. Smalls was moved up to a central attacking position, and Miller Randolph came to take advantage of her powerful throw-ins. The team knew that Waldorf was in their "attacking full throttle mode."
While Waldorf started to create betting offensive support, LuHi found a seam against our back line and scored, going up 00-02. "Our girls' resolve to get back was evident and we put tremendous pressure," said LeSueur. A few minutes later, with our back line and midfield suppling quality passes to the front, the LuHi defenders were caught on a foul in the box and Waldorf earned a penalty kick. Junior stopper Proctor was called to take it. With nerves of steel, she beat the LuHi goalie to the right side. The score was 01-02.
Several more strikes from Trikas, Paone, Smalls and the rest of the team went dangerously close to Waldorf gaining the equalizer. However, in Waldorf's efforts to push forward, LuHi's speedy front runners collected a well struck thru ball and beat the diving Golebiewski to go up 01-03.
The game clock was not on Waldorf's side and when the final whistle blew to end the game, Waldorf had come up short on the score card. "We said before the game we would give it our all and leave no regrets on the field," said Coach LeSueur. "We were certainly disappointed but we played with pride and had nothing to be ashamed of in our efforts to topple the #1 seed."
"I want to give special recognition to our seniors, many who have represented our Varsity Girls Soccer program with distinction for the past four years. They are: Carolyn Smalls, Katarina D'Ercole, Sophia Trikas, Isabella Fraim, Anne Flomenhaft, Zoe Bousraou, and Lexi Van Zant. These ladies, by their commitment and dedication, have established a new level of success for Waldorf's girls soccer program. We will miss their skills and work ethic but most importantly we will miss the positive environment and smiles that made this journey so worthwhile!"
During the final team huddle at the end of the match, some sincere and touching words were shared by freshman Sofia Patino and sophomore Sarah Schweizer. Patino spoke of how much she appreciated the welcome she received from the rest of her teammates this season and Schweizer, an exchange student from Germany, gave her heartfelt thanks for her American soccer experience at the Waldorf School of Garden City. With tears in their eyes and their heads held high, the team thanked their loyal fans as they left the field.
Photos courtesy of Virginia Paone.