By Desirée Keegan
The Newfield girls’ soccer team faced an uphill climb late in its first-round playoff matchup with Bay Shore, but three clutch goals helped the Wolverines survive and advance.
Freshman Sierra Rosario headed in the final goal that gave her team a 4-3 lead with 3:41 left to play. It was the third scored in six minutes by the No. 7 Wolverines, as they battled back to top No. 10 Bay Shore in the first round of the Suffolk County Class AA playoffs Oct. 24.
“That was the scariest moment of my life,” Rosario, a midfielder, said of the final goal. “Vaneeya [Volino] put a good ball in, I flicked it and it went into the bottom right corner. Our heads could’ve gone down, but we kept lifting each other up. Everyone put in 100 percent of the effort from the first whistle to the last. No one really got down on each other, even going down two goals, we kept motivating one another and it shows we have so much heart.”
Newfield put on the pressure to start the game, keeping the ball in Bay Shore’s zone for most of the first half, but the two teams went into the break in a 0-0 draw.
“I need relentless off-the-ball movement,” Newfield head coach Domenik Veraldi said he told his team at halftime. “We need to keep up the intensity and the pressure.”
The Wolverines did just that in the second half. Senior defender Volino’s corner-kick goal just over a minute in off a send in from senior midfielder Kristen Prevosto gave Newfield the lead.
Junior goalkeeper Alexis Saladino made a diving save on Bay Shore’s first shot on goal of the game almost 10 minutes later. A direct free kick at the 20:20 mark went just over Saladino’s head, as she jumped straight up but couldn’t get her fingers on the ball. Six minutes later, she rushed out of the box to make a block, but missed on Bay Shore’s breakaway, as the ball rolled into the net to give the Marauders a 3-1 edge.
Prevosto pulled her team within one when she sent a shot from 20 yards out straight into the net off another free kick from Volino, and junior defender Taylor Regensburger tied the score off a breakaway pass from Volino with 6:38 left in regulation.
“I saw the ball and I thought the girl in front of me was going to head it, but I saw it go over and I know how to bring it down, relax and find the low corners, and I got it,” Prevosto said. “We came in, we were hungry, and obviously, we ate.”
Regensburger said her strategy was to also keep the ball low.
“It was me and the goalie and I knew I had to play to the corners because she’s very tall,” she said. “It feels great to come this far because we’ve never done it before.”
The Wolverines were part of a developmental league in 2012, designed for weaker teams to play competitive games without the possibility of postseason play, and tallied 15 wins over the following three seasons. Many girls on this Newfield team were on a two-win team in 2013.
“This is my favorite season so far,” said Veraldi, who was an assistant coach in 2012. “They just made a memory they’ll have their entire life. When they play with that kind of heart and that commitment — they never give up and you can see it there with three goals in under 10 minutes — they don’t cease to shock me. This is what we expect. I was composed when we were down 3-1 because I expected them to, as a team, pull it together and come through. And they did.”
Newfield travels to No. 2 Smithtown West Oct. 27 for a 2:30 p.m. matchup.
“Newfield came from a developmentally challenged team four years ago, to being here in the playoffs, and we’re not done,” Prevosto said. “It feels great to make it this far but we’re not finished. We’re going to go into the game on Thursday ready to win.”