The Blue Devil varsity girls’ soccer team is back in the hunt for a post-season berth after Huntington edged Newfield in an overtime thriller, 2-1.
Huntington took a 1-0 lead in the first half of the game when Katie Seccafico scored off an assist by Marissa Stafford. The Wolverines later tied the score to force overtime, but the Blue Devils were up for the challenge.
Halfway through the first overtime period, Huntington’s Nicole Abbondandelo fed Stafford the ball who put a shot from 15 yards out past Newfield goalie Alexis Saladino to put the Blue Devils back in front, this time for good. The team’s defense then kept the Wolverines in check over the final 15 minutes to close out the victory.
“I think the team stayed composed throughout the whole game and we worked really hard and played as a team to get the win,” Seccafico said. “We hope to win the last couple of games left in the season to guarantee us a spot in playoffs.”
Huntington knew what was on the line. With the end of the regular season in sight, the Blue Devils need to win as many games as possible to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. So they played even harder than usual.
“Going into today’s game we knew that it was going to be tough, but that we could handle Newfield,” senior Emma Greenhill said. “We’ve come so far in this season since first losing 3-0 to them and we needed to better represent ourselves. Especially going into overtime we needed a win. This is definitely going to propel us and give us the confidence boost we need for the rest of the season. Katie and Marissa really came through for us in this game.”
The Blue Devils have pulled together in all all-out drive to win games. The season hasn’t gone entirely as planned, but there have been some highlights, including the spectacular play of freshman goalie Ainsley Lumpe, who stopped 10 shots against Newfield. Huntington has experience in overtime games and against the Wolverines, the team was determined to come away with a victory and in the end, it did.
“We’ve been in this situation multiple times before and knew in order to win we had to go as hard as we could,” Abbondandelo said. “Marissa Stafford created an opportunity for herself that paid off in the end. For the rest of the season we need to keep the momentum that we’ve gained from the past few games and practices. All the girls are ambitious to capture a spot in playoffs and will continue trusting their teammates on the field.”
Stafford is widely regarded as one of the best underclassmen in the county. The teenager has exceptional skills and she needed to use just about all of them to get the ball in the net against Newfield.
“We worked really hard today and wanted it more than the other team, which resulted in a deserved win,” Stafford said. “For the rest of the season the team needs to continue to play aggressive and keep shooting and hopefully we will make it into the playoffs!”
Huntington head coach John Walsh and assistant coach Vincent Tannazzo gave their players everything they had, encouraging them every step of the way.
“We all never gave up,” senior Catie Ricciardelli said. “It was a matter of time until we finally won in OT. We deserved it today. Everyone worked so hard. For the rest of the season we will work to secure our playoff spot and keep moving up from there.”
To pull off the upset against Newfield, the Blue Devils needed play their “A game” and Walsh and Tannazzo made sure the team did just that.
“I think the key was not letting down and continuing to work as hard as we could until the end,” said senior Grace Connell, who helps anchor Huntington’s defense.
Playing hard is something that Huntington has to continue doing if it wants to end the season on a high note.