October 11, 2006

Mariners' Undefeated Streak Continues

When the Southampton girls' soccer team opted to compete in League VIII this season, they realized that no matter how stellar their record might be in late October, there would be no chance of the Lady Mariners making the postseason. Why, you may ask? Because no team in Suffolk County's League VIII is eligible for the playoffs; but that doesn't mean Southampton doesn't have something to prove.

"The girls are looking to hang a League VIII banner on the gymnasium wall," said coach Ike Birdsall during a recent interview. "That's the goal that they've set for themselves at the start of the season. They also want to go undefeated."

As the girls' soccer season reaches its midway point, Southampton appears a likely favorite to accomplish both of its aforementioned tasks after handing Amityville a 6-0 loss on October 3. In that game, the Mariners scored twice in the first half before putting the game out of reach in the second half when Southampton blasted four goals past the Warriors goalkeeper.

"A lot of our games we have been playing flat in the first half before turning it on in the second half," Birdsall said. "They don't seem to get their rhythm until the second half . . . we sort of play our opponent's game in the first half and then in the second, they take control. It's something we still need to work on, but I do see improvement in every game, whether it's as a team or in the individual players. Every game, I see more cohesiveness."

With 13 different players that have scored goals this season, Southampton (4-0 in League VIII) doesn't have one standout scorer who opposing defenses can mark and that has made it one of the more difficult teams to figure out. One game, Jenna Arnister may lead the scoring, another it's Teal Doherty . . . or Nicole McGuinnes . . . or Leandra McGuinnes. Get the picture?

"They're passing well and the things that they're working on they're accomplishing on the field," said Birdsall. "Everyone is really getting along nicely. They have a good bond."

Defensively, Imani Richardson and Sarah Hatton have been standouts for Southampton this season as has been Catherine O'Conner. Through four league games, the only goals that have been scored against the Mariners have been off of corner kicks.

The solid play of first year midfielder Jasmine Dyson is yet another pleasant surprise for a Mariners team that has seen plenty of positives through the first portion of their season schedule.

Southampton hosts Riverhead (2-3 in League VIII) on Friday afternoon before traveling to Central Islip (3-2) on Monday.

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