Kings Park has come back from behind three times this season — and tried to recreate that success for a fourth time against East Islip Sept. 30.
The Kingsmen kept pushing in the final minutes down 2-0, and sophomore forward Samantha Hogan made it a one-goal game with 3:41 left to play, but the team couldn’t come up with the equalizer, falling 2-1 to East Islip at home.
“I think we really played as a unit, I don’t think we ever changed our style of play to match theirs or change anything to match them,” senior center defender Kayla Homeyer said. “I think we continued to play the way we wanted to play, and with that, we put up the best fight that we could. Every now and then a call doesn’t go your way — we had a hand ball and an offsides — but we kept our cool, we fought our hardest and for us to score that goal in the last 10 minutes really showed we played that way.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Nicole Scott, who made 10 saves during the game, held off East Islip in the opening minutes, along with her defense — batting the ball away, getting in front of shots and grabbing corner kick send-ins.
A flurry of back-and-forth passes between East Islip players became too hard for Scott to handle though, and with 5:27 left until halftime, Rachel Florenz put one in.
“They work hard and they try to stick together,” Kings Park head coach Bryan LoPalo said. “We have 11 seniors on this team and they showed their leadership and played hard from whistle to whistle.”
Early into the second half, East Islip was awarded a penalty kick, and Florenz’s second goal of the game gave her team a distinct advantage. The wind and rain left players slipping and sliding across the muddy field, and that made it difficult for Kings Park to even the score.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way, especially with the weather, but we always have each other’s backs and that’s all that really matters,” senior right and left back Jessica Hoyt said. “We kept composed and stayed calm. We tried to pass it around and play to feet — we don’t like to kick and run, but if we have to we have to.”
Keeping their composure led the Kingsmen to the late goal by Hogan. She races up top, leading the pack toward the box, and knocked her shot into the left corner to cut the deficit.
“We just have to ignore the goal and ignore the conditions, focus in and not let it get to us,” senior forward and center midfielder Emily DaVella said. “Sometimes the little things make a big difference, and we just have to step up faster and try to get to every single ball.”
The Kingsmen pressured in the game’s final minutes, but the ball kept skipping away through the wet grass as the rain continued to come down. East Islip’s dump-and-chase style also made it difficult for Kings Park to keep it in the forward zone.
“We play in a tough league,” LoPalo said. “Every game seems to be tough and every game is a one-goal game, and we had another one here today.”
Homeyer said she was proud to see how her team kept with it, despite being down and despite the weather.
“Playing in the rain is always a little more intense, and I think we matched that intensity and kept things under control,” she said. “We get better and better every day. We just need to play our hardest every game. We need to continue to pull together, play as a unit and work toward the same goal.”
With the loss, Kings Park moves to 8-3-1 overall with a 6-3-1 mark in League IV play, putting the Kingsmen tied with East Islip for the No. 2 spot. Deer Park remains the No. 1 team to beat, going undefeated with a 9-0-1 mark. The team traveled to Half Hollow Hills next, Oct. 5, but results were not available by press time.
As Kings Park moves into the final few games of the season, postseason play is in its sights. But for now, the Kingsmens’ head coach just wants his players to enjoy the ride.
“I just want them to make everlasting memories — I want them to remember this for the rest of their lives,” LoPalo said. “We’ll see what happens from here on out.”