By Rob Potter
MIDDLETOWN A soccer season which included an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI title and the Section IX Class D crown came to disappointing end for the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon at the Faller Field Athletic Complex at Middletown High School.
Although they played with a great deal of heart and determination, the Lady Wildcats faced the Smithtown Christian High School Knights, a team which featured outstanding speed, passing ability and team defense.
Smithtown, the Section XI champion, posted a 5-0 victory in the state Class D first-round game. The Knights are slated to play in the state quarterfinals tomorrow.
The majority of Wednesday’s match was played in the Manor defensive half as the Knights fired 39 shots on goal and earned 10 corner kicks.
Smithtown’s Chelsea Bellini gave her team a 1-0 lead at 19:05 of the opening half with a rapid shot to the right of Manor goalie Angela Trotti, who quickly dove to the turf but narrowly missed stopping the ball.
Bellini finished the match with a hat trick as she added two goals in the second half. The first tally was at 12:37 thanks to an assist from Christina Casamassina and the second was unassisted with 5:12 remaining in the game.
Casamassina recorded the other two goals for Smithtown (10-4-1). Her first goal, with 12:17 remaining, was assisted by Emily Drzymala. Rebecca Voisich assisted on Casamassina’s second score just four minutes later.
Smithtown Coach Steven Chandler noted that Bellini and Casamassina are the two top goal scorers for Class D schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
“Our girls did a great job of passing the ball and getting good shots,” Chandler said.
He also praised his team’s defense, which limited the Lady Wildcats to only three shots on goal. While he knew that Manor junior forward Marissa Diescher entered the match with a team-high 34 goals on the season, Chandler said his team did not employ any special defensive plan to stop Diescher.
“We didn’t have one specific player marking her,” he said. “We had a good lead, but if the score had been reversed, we might have put one defender on her.”
Perhaps Manor’s best chance to get on the board occurred with about 11 minutes remaining. Sophomore midfielder Nina Zheng sent a good, low shot at the net, but Knights’ goalkeeper Brittany Drzymala calmly made the save.
While Drzymala made three saves, Trotti was much busier. The Lady Wildcats’s senior keeper registered 30 saves on the afternoon.
“Angela Trotti played an excellent game,” Manor Coach Shirlee Davis said. “It was her best game of the season. She gave 110 percent out there and kept us in the game in the first half.”
Davis noted that her midfielders had to spend a lot of time on defense rather than pushing the ball upfield to the forwards.
The veteran coach also noted that practices since Manor’s Section IX Class D title match victory on Oct. 31 have been difficult as a number of the Lady Wildcats were under the weather.
But Davis was not making any excuses.
“Our girls gave 100 percent of what they had to give today,” she said. “They tried their best under the circumstances.”
The loss was especially tough for Trotti and the other six Manor seniors: Emily Casey, Tiffany Cherry, Brittnie Fredenburg, Nicole Lair, Melissa Schroeder and Allanna Sherwood.
However, Davis pointed out that none of the seniors or the other 11 players on the Lady Wildcats’ roster should let the disappointing loss overshadow their overall season.
“We had a great season by winning our division and the section title,” she commented. “The seven seniors led us back to the [state] regionals.”