By Joe Galotti
The schedule makers did not do the Smithtown East girls’ soccer team any favors during their first month of the season. The Bulls are currently in the middle of a stretch in which they play four games in six days, and in their matchup against Kings Park on Tuesday afternoon, fatigue was certainly a factor.
After winning a physical and hard-fought game against crosstown rival Smithtown West on Monday, Smithtown East allowed the Kingsmen to dominate much of the play in Tuesday’s contest, but strong play in their own end and a 17-save performance by sophomore goalkeeper Cat Sheppard, allowed the Bulls to keep things close on the scoreboard, and ultimately, leave the field with a 1-1 draw.
Smithtown East head coach Bill Hamilton made the decision to give his regular starters limited playing time in the nonleague matchup. Despite that, he was pleased that his team was still able to avoid their first loss of the season.
“Given the fact that they had about 30 attempted shots in the game, I’m happy it came out as a tie,” Hamilton said. “I told the team today, at the beginning, that I don’t care about how the game goes, as long as we play hard. And they did.”
Kings Park head coach, Bryan LoPalo, also seemed satisfied with the way his team played in the match, despite the fact that his club failed to come away victorious.
“It was not the result we wanted, but the effort was outstanding,” LoPalo said. “I feel like we played our style of soccer and it was a good game.”
Most of the contest was played on the Bulls’ side of the field, with the Kingsmen preventing their opponent from breaking through the middle of the field. LoPalo highlighted the defensive efforts of seniors Shakila Sevanan and Francesca Timpone, and juniors Alexa Biegler and Kayla Homeyer in the game.
Kings Park controlled play through much of the first half, but still entered the intermission trailing 1-0. Sheppard’s strong play in net held the Kingsmen off the scoreboard, and sophomore midfielder Emma Heiser found the back of the net for the Bulls, to give her team the early advantage.
With just under 28 minutes remaining in the second half, Kings Park finally broke through.
A Genevieve Carpenter deflection, off a cross by teammate Selena Ubriaco, was too much for Sheppard to handle, and the ball found its way just over the goal line for the score.
“I just saw Selena coming down the line, and she crossed it, Carpenter said. “I was just trying to help make sure that it went in the goal, and it did. That ended up being a good result for us.”
Kings Park continued to put pressure on Smithtown East during the game’s final stretch, but Sheppard stood tall for the Bulls. The netminder made numerous big saves, including key late-game stops on golden opportunities by Carpenter and senior forward Noelle Perciballi.
“I kept focusing on the ball, and as we continued on, I was able to keep my head in the game,” Sheppard said. “I was a little tired from the game yesterday, but I wanted to get a good result here, and I knew I had to push through.”
Smithtown East continued on with their challenging stretch today, when they visit North Babylon at 4 p.m. Kings Park will also be back in action today, as they hit the road to face off against Deer Park at 6 p.m.