07/31/13 1:49am
07/31/2013 1:49 AM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Kerri Clark was involved in the give-and-go that led to Emily Sopko's goal.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Kerri Clark was involved in the give-and-go that led to Emily Sopko’s goal.

The Shoreham-Wading River High School girls soccer coach, Adrian Gilmore, enjoyed a rare luxury in her team’s game against Miller Place  on Tuesday night. She was able to deploy a full starting 11 in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League playoff match at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.

Despite the opposition having three substitutes and the Wildcats none, Shoreham managed to secure a 1-0 victory, handing Miller Place (8-1-1) its first defeat of the summer and move into the quarterfinals.

For their previous game, a 2-0 victory over Port Jefferson, the Wildcats used only eight players.

“We always have no subs or play down a player,” midfielder Courtney Clasen said. “We play through it.”

The Wildcats (5-5) will play Sayville (9-1) at The Wedge in Mount Sinai on Thursday evening. Sayville, which recorded a 1-0 playoff win over Port Jefferson on Tuesday, defeated Shoreham during the regular season, 1-0.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Emily Sopko, who scored the lone goal in the win over Miller Place.

Gilmore agreed, saying Sayville was “a tough competitor. I didn’t have my goalie and we lost on a penalty kick. We’ll see what Thursday brings. I’m excited.”

“Again, I don’t remember having that many subs standing next to us,” Gilmore said, laughing.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Theresa Bender of Shoreham-Wading River making a pass during her team's 1-0 playoff win over Miller Place.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Theresa Bender of Shoreham-Wading River making a pass during her team’s 1-0 playoff win over Miller Place.

That has been a theme this summer for the Wildcats. Since the Brookhaven League does not demand mandatory attendance and players go on vacation and have summer jobs and other commitments, it’s not unusual for teams to field shorthanded teams.

Shoreham had to forfeit one game at Sachem because only six girls showed up.

“We had to drive all the way to Sachem,” goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop said. “It was pouring rain. There was only six of us huddled under an umbrella. It’s always we don’t have enough girls. We have the talent, it’s just people have other things going on and they can’t show up.”

When Tuesday’s game kicked off, Shoreham had all of its players in the starting lineup. Miller Place had three players on the bench and its coach substituted freely.

Because there were no substitutes available, every Shoreham player knew she would have to go the full 60 minutes in the game of two 30-minute halves. In fact, the Wildcats were forced to go down to 10 players early in the second half when Taylor Chaimowitz was taken out for six minutes after sustaining an ankle injury.

“I just play until I know it’s over,” said Clasen, a three-sport star who also competes in basketball and track. “I don’t really think about it. I just play. If I’m dying, I just think, ‘Well if we win this we go on.’ ”

Added Sopko: “We just think about winning the game and moving forward in the season. We think about the season coming up. We just hope that we’re this good.”

Shoreham was missing three starters who were on vacation — sweeper Kate Birkmire, striker Megan Kelly, who has been tied as the league’s leading goal scorer, and incoming freshman Alexandra Kuhnie.

But the Wildcats came through. Wynkoop grabbed everything that was shot or sent her way. Clasen set the pace in the midfield and Sopko tallied midway through the opening half.

“They do a great job of possessing the ball, playing to feet and I think a difference tonight, just playing smart,” Gilmore said.

Sopko broke the deadlock with 14 minutes 9 seconds remaining in the first half as she scored inside the penalty area on a give-and-go with Kerri Clark.

Sopko admitted she did not remember much about her goal. “When I shoot and score, I don’t really think about it,” she said. “I just worry about getting the ball into the back of the net.”

Last season the Wildcats struggled at times, dropping several games by a goal. But given a promising talent pool and the encouraging summer results, Gilmore was optimistic for the fall as she walked off the artificial turf field on a beautiful summer night.

“It’s a good indicator of how they look for the fall and our JV team is in first place for summer league also, so that just speaks for the talent that’s coming up throughout the program,” she said.

07/13/12 8:54pm
07/13/2012 8:54 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop will be starting her third season as the varsity starter this fall.

Kelly Wynkoop was admittedly rusty in goal at the start of the summer league season a few weeks ago. After all, it had been a long time since she last played an organized soccer game.

“My first game I just dropped every single ball,” said Wynkoop, a Shoreham-Wading River junior.

Seven games into the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, Wynkoop has quickly gotten back into groove. She made nine saves Friday afternoon — including a game-saving play in the final seconds — in a 2-1 win against Bayport-Blue Point at the Patchogue-Medford Youth Fields.

To see Wynkoop perform well in goal is nothing new for the Wildcats. She’ll be entering her third year as the starting goalkeeper this fall on the varsity team.

What is surprising is how she does it.

In a sport consumed by club and travel teams, clinics and camps — to the point where high school teams are almost afterthoughts for elite players — Wynkoop hardly plays the game outside school.

She hasn’t played on a club team since seventh grade. She doesn’t spend her summers away at soccer camps. She’s a three-month soccer player disguised as a year-round goalie.

“I never really had any professional training, never really go to camps,” Wynkoop said. “I’m kind of a bum.”

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River midfielder Courtney Clasen assisted on the Wildcats’ game-winning goal.

Her play suggests otherwise.

Bayport kept her busy with an array of high shots that she had to snatch out of the air. And when Bayport’s Nicole Geoghan found herself with an open lane to the goal with under 10 seconds left in the game, Wynkoop darted toward her as the last line of defense. She reached the ball just in time and got a piece of it to prevent Geoghan from scoring the game-tying goal.

“That was terrifying,” she said. “I kind of threw my body in front it hoping not to get kicked in the face. I’m glad I got a piece of it and then they were there to back me up. But that was really scary.”

For most players with several years of varsity experience, they often attend summer league games at their convenience. Club and travel teams tend to take precedent.

But without all those other commitments, the summer league turns into a critical warm-up period for the fall season for Wynkoop. It’s a chance to shake off some of the rust and get back on the field.

“It’s mostly getting my hands ready again,” she said. “I need it because otherwise I wouldn’t be good. It’s my only real warm-up for the real season.”

Wynkoop missed last week because of a vacation, but has otherwise been in goal each game, which is good news for the Wildcats because there isn’t much depth at the position behind her.

“There are no other goalies,” she said.

When Wynkoop came up to the varsity as a freshman, she never expected to start. There was as an older player in front of her. But she quickly won the job and never relinquished it.

The Wildcats made the playoffs in both her seasons. And now as a junior, she’ll be one of the veteran players on the team in the fall.

The Wildcats lost their top offensive players to graduation, including All-State players Kari Quinn and Shannon McDonnell.

The summer league has been an opportunity for some of the newer players to gain some experience and show what they can do. The results have been positive. With Friday’s win the Wildcats improved to 5-1-1.

“I was surprised we’re actually winning,” Wynkoop said. “We lost our whole offense, but we’re holding up pretty well.”

Wynkoop said incoming-freshman Megan Kelly has been an offensive spark for the Wildcats. She scored both of Shoreham’s goals Friday. The second came with five minutes left in the second half. Courtney Clasen lofted a high-arching shot from the left side that sent Bayport’s goalkeeper backpedaling toward the goal. Kelly was in position at the far post when the ball came down to get a piece of it and put it in.

Kelly tied the game at 1 immediately after Bayport had struck for the first goal early in the first half. King sent a hard shot from the right side off the crossbar and into the cage. Makayla Meeker set her up with the assist.

A game earlier Kelly scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Wynkoop actually had the assist.

“I just punted it and it went through people for some reason,” she said. “And [Kelly] scored.”

The Phantoms tested Wynkoop more than any team so far in the summer, which is how she likes it.

“Today was the first game I was really, really busy,” she said. “I work better under pressure. When I don’t get a lot of action is when I’m more likely to fumble or slip. When I get in the zone, I work a lot better.”

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