For the past five seasons, the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team had the luxury of starting each game with one of the top players on Long Island in Kari Quinn. Since a 16-goal season as an eighth-grader, Quinn’s dynamic play helped lead the Wildcats into the playoffs every season.
Now with Quinn playing for Syracuse University, and fellow all-state midfielder Shannon McDonnell at Yale, the Wildcats will turn to a new core to keep their playoff streak alive.
While the Wildcats lost their top two offensive threats from last season, they return a solid group of returning players in addition to a few newcomers who are primed for breakout seasons.
The biggest addition among the newcomers could be freshman Megan Kelly, who led the team in goals during the summer league. In the team’s scrimmage against William Floyd Friday, she scored a pair of goals.
“She just has that die-hard instinct, she knows where to be and has the muscle to just run through people,” said Shoreham’s second-year coach Adrian Gilmore, who’s brought stability back to the program after becoming the fourth coach in four years last season. “I’m really excited to see her play.”
Kelly could be a huge boost offensively for a team that will need to find new scorers this season. Kelly’s making the jump to varsity right from the junior high team last year.
Junior Shannon Rosati gives the Wildcats another offensive threat. Always one of the fastest players on the field, Rosati scored one of Shoreham’s goals against Floyd.
Gilmore said Rosati has quickly developed into one of the leaders on the team.
“She’s really helped Megan and some of the younger girls,” she said. “It can be hard as a ninth-grader coming up to the team and not knowing anyone. She really took them under her wing and made sure they felt comfortable.”
The Wildcats will look for their defense to be a strong point. Junior goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop returns for her third season as the starter. She posted nine shutouts last season.
Gilmore said Wynkoop has become more of a vocal leader of the defense.
“Being a goalie who doesn’t play on a club team and being so young on varsity, it’s something that you kind of develop over the years,” she said.
Senior captain Jessica Angerman is another leader on the team, Gilmore said, who will play on defense. She’ll start at stopper.
“She just has a presence about her the other girls are drawn to,” Gilmore said.
Kate Birkmire slides over from stopper to sweeper this season and will be a leader of the defense as well.
In the midfield sophomore Courtney Clasen will play a much larger role this season as the center mid.
“She’s more confident,” Gilmore said. “I noticed she’s been shooting the ball a lot more, so I’m happy about that.”
Sophomore Mackenzie Roberts will play a key role in the midfield along with junior Logan Hoffmann.
The Wildcats will face a challenging schedule this season in League VI. With the addition of the developmental league, John Glenn bumped up to the same league as Shoreham.
“From the coaching standpoint, you want to play competitive soccer,” Gilmore said.
Shoreham opens league play Friday at Center Moriches.
When the opportunity came up for the Riverhead girls soccer team to join the newly formed developmental league this season, it was something second-year coach Hassan Olowu and the athletic department embraced.
Last season in League IV was a difficult journey for the Blue Waves. Riverhead lost eight games by five or more goals and the Blue Waves scored four goals over the entire season.
This season the Blue Waves will compete in League VIII along with Southampton, Newfield, Hampton Bays, Copiague, Central Islip and Amityville. It’ll give the team an opportunity to compete against other rebuilding teams and give them a more competitive playing field as they try to build the program.
“We want to improve on areas of our game that perhaps lack of experience has provided us,” Olowu said. “We think it’s a good thing for us. It’s the right time for us to go into it. By the time we actually come out of it we’ll definitely be ready to compete at a level we all know Riverhead can compete at.”
It’s a two-year commitment to the developmental league, which will not send any teams into the Section XI playoffs.
It was the school’s choice to join the league, Olowu said.
“I have a great athletic department and they fully support the decisions we try to make in the interest of the program, he said. “They voted on it and they agreed.”
The Blue Waves return some experienced players in senior midfielder/forward Ashley Drozd and junior goalkeeper Carolyn Carrera.
Olowu said Drozd is a strong offensive player who can score from “practically anywhere in the offensive third.”
“Another thing I’m really lucky to have is a leader who very much brings everybody together off the field,” Olowu added.
Carrera, meanwhile, is like another coach on the field, Olowu said.
“If for some reason I forget something, I’m not even worried because I know Carolyn will remember,” he said.
The Blue Waves also return senior Megan Weiss and junior Emily Jehle in addition to some newcomers.
“We’re very encouraged by what we see right now,” Olowu said.
Riverhead opens the league season Sept. 20 at home against Newfield.
They’ll be a familiar face on the sidelines for McGann-Mercy this season. Meaghan Macarthur, a 2007 Mercy graduate who played college basketball at Springfield, has taken over the varsity program as former coach Jacki Paton switches to the junior high.
“A lot of my styles and techniques I learned from her,” Macarthur said. “Most of it is very similar to her, but I’m trying a couple new things and it’s just a little different perspective.”
The Monarchs return a young team after losing several of their top players to graduation. They enter the season with five freshmen and five sophomores.
For freshman Juliana Cintron-Leonardo, this is already her second season on varsity. She started in goal for the Monarchs last season and showed off her ability that has the Mercy players thankful she’s on their team.
“She’s an animal,” Macarthur said. “She just attacks the ball.”
In practice, it only helps the Mercy shooters having to go up against a strong goalie.
“You really have to work on placing the ball to the sides and tops of the net instead of shooting and hoping the goalie is going to miss it,” Macarthur said.
In front of Cintron-Leonardo, the Monarchs will rely on senior Shannon Willmott to direct the defense as sweeper. Macarthur said Willmott is a good communicator and leader.
Sophomore Meghan Bassone will play forward and try to fill some of the scoring void left behind after Karlin McIntyre graduated.
In the midfield the Monarchs feature sophomore Claire Sullivan and freshman Dana Young.
The Monarchs hope to get senior Pip Ross back soon from an injury. A back injury limited her last season and now she’s dealing with an ankle injury to start this season.
Macarthur said in their first scrimmage and non-league game, the players looked like they had already been playing together in games.
“They communicate with each other without actually saying things,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. The passes they make. They know where each other is going to be.”
Mercy begins its league season Friday at home against Smithtown Christian.