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The Port Jefferson Royals celebrate winning the New York State Class C soccer championship for the first time in program history. Photo by Andrew Wakefield

By Desirée Keegan

“Strong alone. Unstoppable together.” — that was the Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team’s motto this season and with unfinished business, the Royals rode a perfect season in League VII to their second consecutive Suffolk County and Long Island titles, and brought home the state crown for the first time in program history.

“Our goal was to get back up there,” Port Jefferson head coach Allyson Wolff said of taking another shot at New York, after the Royals fell in the state finals last year. “They just showed how when they play like a team, the goals they can accomplish — they did that this year. They were unstoppable.”

The Royals were looking to avoid another devastating defeat on the state stage when their journey started on Saturday in the semifinals, where Port Jefferson topped Caledonia-Mumford, 4-1.

Junior forward Clare O’Connor and sophomore forward Grace Swords each tallied a goal and junior forward Jillian Colucci added an assist, but most impressive was the team’s new member, junior forward Brittany Fazin, who scored twice.

“She was definitely a great addition,” Wolff said. “The connection she made with the girls was nice to see; the chemistry was there.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Scarda made 10 saves in the win against Caledonia-Mumford.

After coming close to a goal several times against Elmira’s Notre Dame High School in the finals the next day, Colucci assisted the first score of the game when she crossed the ball to O’Connor, who knocked it in from the front left corner of the net to give her team the early advantage.

The two have been playing together since first grade, and the connection showed.

“Because we’ve been playing together for so long, we know where each other is on the field, and we find each other a lot and set each other up the whole season,” O’Connor said. “It’s a bond you can’t find anywhere else.”

Fazin scored next with a shot to the top right corner, and Colucci and O’Connor connected for the final goal of the season, when Colucci headed in O’Connor’s corner kick.

“The atmosphere was a little different because, with our first time up there, we didn’t know what to expect,” O’Connor said. “This year, our fans really brought the energy.”

Notre Dame’s only goal came off a penalty kick after the Royals’ second goal, and Scarda finished with four saves.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Wolff said. “I’m still in awe. You could see the girls’ confidence rise even more from last year to this year.”

This soccer season was a stellar one for the Port Jefferson girls, as they went undefeated in their league for the third time in four years. On the road to the finals, the girls had tasted only victory since early September — when they lost two nonleague matches — and they were not about to let that change.

Most of their victories in the regular season were shutouts, and they scored five or more goals in the majority of those wins. In the three league games in which they allowed their opponents to score, they still won by at least three goals — they were on fire and earned the top seed heading into the postseason.

The Royals had given up only nine goals in the regular season, and kept that number steady in the regional finals, where they earned a 3-0 shutout against Cold Spring’s Haldane High School.

The action in the state soccer semifinals and finals over the weekend brought the number of goals scored against them to 11 — as compared to the 78 goals they scored this season from start to finish.

O’Connor said it was a result of improvements on both sides of the field.

“It started with the defense — we had our friend Katie [Connolly] go to the back, and she kept our team together for a lot of the season and she stopped a lot of goals from going in,” she said. “We also had a new addition to our team, Brittany [Fazin], and she helped us score a lot of goals too, so it was a little of both.”

As was the case for the team all year, the girls were slow to start in both state games, but once they got the ball rolling, it didn’t stop.

“That seemed to be the running theme this year — it created a domino effect that sparked the offense,” Wolff said. “Brianna [Scarda] also had a great season in goal — the way she communicated with the girls and the way they respected her.”

Using its motto, the team showed how strong they were not only alone, but together, and that togetherness helped them get all the way to the top.

“It’s kind of cool to see each season how much a girl has progressed and how it shapes the team,” O’Connor said. “Our motto came from the U.S. women’s soccer team after its run to the World Cup this summer. We thought it was fitting for us, because we wanted this to be our winning season, and it was.”

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Port Jefferson's Clare O'Connor kicks the ball behind a defender toward the goal in the Royals' 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson's Clare O'Connor kicks the ball behind a defender toward the goal in the Royals' 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Clare O’Connor kicks the ball behind a defender toward the goal in the Royals’ 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

These Royals continue to rule.

The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team earned the regional crown on Saturday, topping Cold Spring’s Haldane High School, 3-0, to lengthen their undefeated streak and send them to the state stage.

Port Jefferson celebrates Jillian Colucco's goal in the Royals' 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson celebrates Jillian Colucco’s goal in the Royals’ 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

That pivotal match came after a perfect season for the Royals in League VII, their second in a row. With no Class C Suffolk County challengers, the girls were named county champs and were sent to the regional finals, where they played the defending state champ.

“These girls play hard right to the end,” Port Jefferson head coach Allyson Wolff said about the Haldane match. “To come out here tonight and beat the last Class C state champion is huge for us and gives us that confidence to go upstate. I think we can do it this year.”

The regional victory is the Royals’ second consecutive title, and sends them to the state playoffs, where they fell last year.

Junior forward Jillian Colucci got the ball rolling for the Royals with 12:45 remaining in the first half. The co-captain received a pass up the middle from senior midfielder and co-captain Olivia Love, and chipped the ball to the left from 10 yards out. It just passed the Haldane goalkeeper’s outstretched arms, bouncing into the left corner for the 1-0 lead.

“My teammate Olivia Love — we have a chemistry that I can’t really describe, but I just knew she was going to play the ball … and as the ball bounced I told myself just to get a touch on it, since I saw the goalie coming out of the box,” Colucci said. “I think our possession and our communication was really good today, and we’re going upstate because of it.”

Port Jefferson's Jillian Colucci races downfield with a defender on her hip in the Royals' 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Jillian Colucci races downfield with a defender on her hip in the Royals’ 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Opening the second half, sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Scarda made a save to maintain her team’s lead, and junior midfielder Brittany Fazin repaid her with another goal. After leading a pack of defenders and squeezing between two to get ahead at the front of the net, she sent her shot into the left corner past a diving Haldane goalkeeper for the 2-0 advantage.

“I was really scared for that moment because I had a similar opportunity earlier and missed it, but I knew going to it that I could do it,” Fazin said. “So I threw myself on the ball and got the goal.”

With 19:32 on the clock, Scarda made another one of her eight saves on the evening to preserve the clean sheet. Several minutes later, Fazin helped set up the next goal when she crossed a pass from the 20-yard line over to the right sideline 10 yards out from the net to Grace Swords, a sophomore forward, who crossed her shot high above the goalkeeper’s head and into the far left corner for the final score of the game.

Despite allowing three goals, Haldane’s goalkeeper, Sara Labriola, put in a lot of work — she made 19 stops on the evening.

Port Jefferson's Brittany Fazin maintains possession in the Royals' 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Brittany Fazin maintains possession in the Royals’ 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Leading up to this week we all focused so hard and we practiced as hard as we’ve ever practiced in our lives, and we had the mindset that we could to this,” Fazin said. “I think our speed and our vision helped us a lot. I think we were very good out of the air, too. I’m new to the school and to the team and this feels great. I love these girls.”

Colucci was also proud of her team’s outcome.

“There was so much anticipation going into this game because we had three weeks from our last league game until here, so it feels amazing to have our hard work pay off,” she said. “I think our possession and our communication was really good today.”

Although the game was slow to start, the Royals thrive on forward motion.

“Once that one goal kicked in, it got their momentum going, their fire burning and their confidence boosted,” Wolff said. “I said from the very beginning that they could do it and they prove it when they step on the field. They’re a great group of girls and it’s just a pleasure and an honor coaching this group. They have that drive and desire to win and hopefully we can do it upstate.”

Port Jefferson will take on Caledonia-Mumford on Saturday in the state semifinals at Cortland High School Field 1 at 5 p.m. If the Royals win, they will move on to play in the finals on Sunday, at 9:30 a.m. at SUNY Cortland’s Red Field.

Port Jefferson celebrates after its 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson celebrates after its 3-0 win over Haldane for the Southeast Regional title on Nov. 7. Photo by Desirée Keegan