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Girls Soccer: SWR eyes an elusive LI title

Some of the players on the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls soccer team are a superstitious lot. Trying to get them to talk about the likelihood of them winning a Long Island championship may be more difficult than trying to push a soccer ball past them.

Good luck.

Shoreham has never won a Long Island title, which is rather amazing in itself, considering the caliber of players and teams it has produced over the years. Last year, Shoreham reached the Long Island Class A final for the second time in four years and lost to North Shore, 1-0, on an own goal in overtime. It was Shoreham’s only loss in an 18-1-1 season.

So close.

Three-time All-State goalkeeper Lydia Kessel (Vermont) is the only starter from that team who has graduated. All 10 starting field-position players are back, and Shoreham looks poised to make another strong run.

“We don’t say it because we’re very superstitious, but it’s always on our minds, winning a Long Island championship,” Emma Kirkpatrick, an All-Conference senior forward, said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “That’s a huge goal of ours and I would love to graduate with a Long Island championship.”

Shoreham seems to have the weapons. Nicky Constant, an All-County senior forward, was the League VI Player of the Year and one of the top scorers in Suffolk County with 29 goals and 14 assists last year. All-Conference senior midfielder Frankie Lilly put up nine goals and nine assists while Kirkpatrick tallied nine goals and six assists.

As for goalkeeper, that position looks to be in capable hands, whether they be of junior Alison Devall, MVP of the Brookhaven Summer League championship game that Shoreham won, or sophomore Abby Wing.

“We’re returning a lot of players from last year and they were very strong last year,” said Lilly, a former cross-country runner who will play next year for NCAA Division III Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. She said: “Everyone’s stronger, everyone’s faster. Everyone knows the game better and we know each other better, and I think that will show on the field, and I think that will help us go further. I could see us doing really great things.”

Coach Adrian Gilmore and her assistant, Brian Ferguson, have plenty of talent on their hands. “I definitely think that this year is a year that we could find ourselves back in the Long Island championship with a chance to win,” said Gilmore, who has coached the team since 2011.

Over the past five years, Shoreham has a 59-7-7 record, with two county titles and four league championships.

That first Long Island crown, however, still eludes them.

Constant, who verbally committed to Vermont in March, said, “We’ve been so unlucky, but I feel like this year we have a great chance of making it there again and hopefully winning.”

Gilmore said, “I’m hoping that this year is our year.” She continued: “For the past five years I’ve been really lucky that the teams have always come out and they’ve always played good soccer and they’ve always played hard for me, and I think that is what kind of takes us to the next level. You have to have effort and talent, and you have to be hungry. They have to want it. They have to believe that they can achieve it.”

Do the Wildcats believe this is their year to finally break that Long Island barrier?

Kirkpatrick took a deep breath before answering, “I don’t want to jinx it because we’re so superstitious, but I have a good feeling.”

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Photo caption: Senior forward Emma Kirkpatrick, one of Shoreham-Wading River’s 10 returning starting field players, during practice Tuesday morning. (Credit: Bob Liepa)