CHAMPS!!! Ward Melville girls soccer wins first state championship

CHAMPS!!! Ward Melville girls soccer wins first state championship

Coach reflects on the road to the state championship

By John Diehl

Head Coach Ward Melville Girls Soccer

Last weekend, the Ward Melville girls soccer team won its first state championship in program history. After defeating perennial powerhouse Massapequa in the Long Island Championship, Ward Melville traveled to Dryden, NY, to compete in the Class AA State semifinal against Monroe-Woodbury High School, a program use to success, winning back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019. 

This year’s state championship semifinal showdown would be played in rainy conditions. After a 0-0 draw at the end of regulation, the game went into “sudden victory” overtime. 

Midway through the first overtime period, senior Grace Justiniano crossed a ball into the top of the penalty area. Sophomore Adri Victoriano pressured the Monroe-Woodbury goalkeeper as she tried to catch the ball, but the ball bounced out to the feet of Mia Pirozzi, who scored the game winning goal. 

Following the thrilling victory, Mia those defining moments of play. 

“Right place, right time,” she said. “I just happened to be there.” 

The next day, the Patriots played Clarence High School in the final, where weather would once again be a significant factor, with snow, clouds, and sun taking turns sporadically throughout the game. 

From the beginning, we established control and played a great game.  We put three goals in the net during regulation, but they were all called back for either offsides or fouls. Once again the score was tied 0-0 in at the end of regulation, meaning yet another sudden victory-overtime. 

At the coin toss before OT, captain Elyse Munoz learned that if the game was still 0-0 at the end of both OT periods, then both teams would be declared co-champs.  This had happened to us in 2020, when Sachem East and Ward Melville were declared co-county champs, and the team was not going to let history repeat itself. 

“I refuse to lose,” Elyse said. “I refuse to tie. I won’t let that happen again.” 

We came out on fire in OT, and in just under four minutes of the first period, Maddy Costello passed a through ball to Adri Victoriano, who drove down towards the goal, passed the ball to Mia Pirozzi, just missing the hands of the diving Clarence goalkeeper. For the second consecutive game, Mia guided the ball into the net for the game winning goal. 

En route to our state championship, we had an undefeated season with a 17-0-3 record.  Along with winning the states, we also were crowned Long Island and Suffolk County Champions.  

Our team gave up only eight goals on the season, earned 12 shutouts, and shut out  both teams we faced in the state tournament. 

Our players of the games at states were Mia Pirozzi in the semifinal and Peyton Costello in the final. Our captains are Elyse Munoz, Elian Hamou, Emma Ward, and Peyton Costello. 

All season long, we reinforced to the girls that they continue to rise to every challenge that comes their way. 

“It was an absolute pleasure being on the sideline watching such a talented group of players and coaches come together to make history for Ward Melville Athletics and our Girls Soccer program. It was a magical weekend, where so many family members, community members, alumni, and former coaches came out to support the team. … Congratulations to our NY State Class AA 2022 Girls Soccer Champions!” said Kevin Finnerty, Athletic Director.