By Desirée Keegan
It seems nothing can stop Jillian Colucci.
The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team’s senior forward was double-teamed most of the way, but continued to power past defenders, scoring four goals to lead the Royals to a 6-2 win over Center Moriches Sept. 13.
A 1-0 deficit didn’t stop the team either.
After senior forward Clare O’Connor’s throw-in reached classmate Brittany Fazin, the midfielder tapped the ball to Colucci, who raced ahead of the pack and knocked the ball into the left corner to tie the game. After she blocked a pass in the middle six minutes later, Colucci ran to the top of the box, where she tapped in another pass to give the Royals the lead. Her hat trick goal came minutes later, when after racing alongside Fazin, she took a pass at the 20-yard line, again beat out the defense and found the back of the net for a 3-1 advantage heading into the halftime break.
“They don’t give up,” Port Jefferson head coach Allyson Wolff said of her Royals. “We were down 1-0 and I think that sparked them to pull together and play like a team. It makes them play harder. That’s what I love to see.”
Fazin was next to light up the scoreboard. She extended the lead at the 33:46 mark by beating a double-team.
“I missed so many in the beginning, and it was scary, so when I saw Clare [O’Connor] had the ball, I made a run wide and knew it wasn’t going to me, so I took a step back and let the girl head the ball in front of me,” she said. “I looked for a space between the two defenders ahead of me, I settled it down, tapped it and looked right to the corner.”
The Royals have a cohesive unit, thanks in large part to returning all but one senior from the 2015 roster. Their ground game and communication are what help the team shine.
Colucci said the team also shows poise, even in tough situations.
“In the past we’ve come back a lot during games,” she said. “We don’t let it get in our heads — even when the game got physical — we just do what we do, which is possess the ball, connect and communicate.”
Possessing the ball aided the Royals in wearing down the Red Devils.
“We passed it on the ground and kept playing back instead of going forward so much,” Fazin said. “We possessed and waited for the right moment to go forward, and that definitely tired out the other team.”
Colucci scored her fourth goal of the game on a penalty kick. The Royals put away their sixth goal when they were awarded a corner kick and Katie Connolly was in front this time to make it 6-2.
With the win, Port Jefferson extended its winning streak to three games. The team travels to McGann-Mercy on Sept. 15 for a 4:30 p.m. matchup.
Wolff said she is pleased with what she has seen in her defending state-champions so far, and is looking forward to seeing what else the girls can do.
“This is probably one of our toughest opponents in the league and I thought that they played really well together; I’m proud of them,” Wolff said of her Class C team going up against a B team in Center Moriches. “The bond, the leadership — they all lead in their own way.”
Colucci said she is confident in her team’s ability to get the job done again this year.
“We’re building up our momentum with each game we play, and we’re getting better and better with communication and possession,” she said. “Our goal is to get back to states, so we’re just going to keep working hard.”