If there has been one constant this year for the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls soccer team, it has been the player with the fitting last name: Constant.
Nicky Constant has been just that, a continuous scoring threat for the Wildcats. She can be man-marked, double-teamed, it doesn’t matter. The junior striker finds a way to put the ball in the back of the net.
Top-seeded Shoreham found itself in an unusual position Wednesday when it fell behind, 1-0, to No. 8 Hauppauge in its Suffolk County Class A quarterfinal at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. Shoreham had trailed only once before this year, to Elwood/John Glenn.
Like that game, the Wildcats recovered to win. Constant scored the tie-breaking goal as Shoreham pulled away to a 3-1 victory.
“She’s amazing,” Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore said. “There is a certain calmness that she brings to the game. That is something that I’ve never seen before.”
Shoreham has had some great forwards over the years, and Constant is making a place for herself in that proud tradition with her finesse and calmness in front of the goal.
Going into the game, she ranked second in Suffolk in points with 39, according to Newsday. The goal she scored with 4 minutes, 5 seconds left in the first half, tapping in an Erin Triandafils throw-in that went over a defender’s head, was her 27th of the year. (She also has 13 assists to her credit).
“I love Nicky,” Shoreham goalkeeper Lydia Kessel said. “Just her creativity on the ball is something that’s not matchable. You’re not going to really see anyone like that around here. No matter what defender you put on her, she comes up with a way to beat them. It’s frustrating in practice when she’s playing against me. Oh, it’s the most frustrating thing, but I’m happy to have someone like that on my team.”
Constant, in her third year on the team, said this is the best season she has ever had. So, what is the secret to her scoring success?
“I think it’s just placement and … know where you’re going to shoot it when you’re dribbling down the field,” she said. “If you can place it into the corner, there’s no way the goalie’s going to get it. And if you have skill to get around the goalie, there’s no stopping you.”
As there seems to be no stopping League VI champion Shoreham (16-0-1), winner of eight straight. The Wildcats, in the playoffs for a sixth straight year, will host either No. 4 Elwood/John Glenn or No. 5 East Islip in a semifinal Friday.
This has been a dream season for Shoreham. It has outscored opponents, 80-5, and Kessel has posted 12 shutouts.
But the Wildcats had to work hard for this win, thanks in large part to the goalkeeping of sophomore Zoe Kaplan, who was stellar, making 11 saves. Kaplan’s play, and Dani Waters’ goal (assisted by Alex Rush), lofted over Kessel’s head and under the crossbar for a 1-0 Hauppauge lead 20:50 into the game, gave Shoreham something to think about.
Shoreham had seen Hauppauge (9-8-1) and Kaplan before when the teams scrimmaged in the preseason.
“As soon as I saw Hauppauge on our bracket I was like, ‘Guys, we got to work on our shooting. She’s good,’ ” Kessel said of Kaplan. “And as a goalie, I usually don’t give credit to other goalies, but I have to give it to that girl. She had a great game today.”
Emma Kirkpatrick drew Shoreham even, hammering a shot in off a scramble following a corner kick with 13:31 to go in the first half. Then Constant did her thing for the go-ahead score.
“She scores one or two goals against a team that’s a little bit easier,” Gilmore said. “She’s never the kid who’s burying the third and fourth. She’s passing, trying to get the girl who has never scored a goal, and I think that says a lot about her character.”
Shoreham’s third goal came from Ashley Borriello with 6:09 to go in the game. A Constant shot was parried aside by Kaplan, but Borriello was in place to tuck the rebound in.
Afterward, Constant could feel good that she had done her part to keep Shoreham’s unbeaten record intact. She said, “It’s just a privilege to say that I helped us get the win and that I contributed.”
So, what else is new?
Photo caption: Hauppauge’s Lauren Mastandrea, left, and Shoreham-Wading River’s Maddy Joannou tangle in an attempt to win possession of the ball. (Credit: Bob Liepa)