By Bill Landon
Many coaches say that the purpose of nonleague games is for one team to play a better team, or to “play up,” in an effort to raise their game and improve their play by facing a faster team with greater skillsets. Newfield girls’ soccer head coach Ann Marie Hassett agreed in the offseason to a nonleague matchup against Half Hollow Hills West, but this year she sensed something was different.
“This is the first year they’re not in our league, so when the coach called and asked if I wanted to play a nonleague game, I paused, because we’ve never beaten them in the eight years I’ve been here,” Hassett said. “But our team has come a long way. We’ve grown; we’ve played well together, so I thought that this time we could beat them.”
Her inclination was right, as on Saturday, for the first time in eight years, the Wolverines outlasted Hills West to claim a shutout victory, scoring three unanswered goals and using defensive play to keep their opponent on their heels.
Ten minutes in, Newfield sophomore midfielder Taylor Regensburger started the scoring when she drove her shot to the back of the net off a feed from eighth-grade midfielder Sierra Rosario, to take the lead 1-0.
Under a hot sun in a game riddled with injuries, Hills West struggled to get the ball to its forwards, as the Newfield defensive pressure was more than the team could handle.
With 11 minutes left in the first, senior forward Michelle Bartolo, a co-captain, set up the next score with a cross pass to Rosario, who chipped it in for the 2-0 advantage.
“It was a really good cross — a really good cross from Michelle,” Rosario said. “I just redirected it and it went in.”
Hassett said Bartolo was playing defense for the first time, and her senior captain did an amazing job in her defensive role.
“I was playing defense and there was a free ball so I crossed it in and [Rosario] kicked it in,” Bartolo said.
As time wound down in the final half, Newfield junior midfielder Kristen Prevosto, on a crossing pass, fed senior forward Cori Myers, who shot the ball into the corner of the net.
With their league opening loss to North Babylon in overtime, along with their blowout victory over Riverhead on Friday, the Wolverines improve to 2-1 overall. Newfield will take on Smithtown East next, in League III action at home on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Hassett said that the heavily favored North Babylon team was expected to easily outscore Newfield, but said her team held its own and took the game into overtime. The coach added that the win over Half Hollow Hills West was huge for her team, and said that other teams have taken notice.
“In years past other teams regarded Newfield as an easy win,” Hassett said. “And now, for the first time, other teams are talking about Newfield soccer.”