NORTHPORT, New York, October 9
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Through 10 games this season as of Tuesday, the Northport (10-0) girls soccer team is outscoring opponents 35-0. That’s right, goalkeepers Brenna Farrington, a sophomore, and Emma Havrilla, a freshman, have yet to allow a ball to reach the back of their net this season. On offense, senior striker Sabrina Barton has accounted for 13 of Northport’s goals, while assisting four others – for a total of 17 points, good for sixth on the Long Island leaderboards.
What might be most shocking, though, is that the girls were not even aware of how impressive they’ve been this season.
“We try not to shed too much light on that stuff. We don’t want them to focus on it, but instead to focus on the moment,” Aija Gipp, head coach of the Tigers, said. “But [eventually] we had to tell them.”
What Gipp had to tell the girls was that they’re ranked No. 2 in the United States – as of Oct. 7 – by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, an organization of coaches with more than 22,000 members. New York State-wise, the Tigers came in at No. 1 according to the New York State according to the Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) – which also posted its ranking on Tuesday.
“They were almost shocked,” Gipp said. “I loved their reaction… It was a little confidence boost, for them to know they’re just as good as the team last year and that they’re creating a name for themselves.”
The team last year, Gipp said, made its way through the Long Island competition undefeated, but fell in the New York State Championship tournament – something that left a bad taste in the team’s mouth.
“Our three captains want to get back there again,” the Tigers’ fifth-year coach said.
With the way the girls have been playing, thanks to the leadership of its 16 upperclassman, such as senior defender Alyssa Gaynor, and a well-balanced game plan, Gipp said she’s hoping for nothing less than a state championship – something the Tigers have claimed three times since 1980.
“From the back to the top… There’s been balance throughout the team,” Gipp said. “[Barton] has definitely been the leader of our attack, and the younger girls really look up to her, watch how she plays, ask her questions – she’s a role model for the new girls on the team.”
Graduating 16 seniors last year, new faces are something that Northport has become used to this season; but they seem to be fitting in just fine.
“Cybele Laisney [a sophomore] has been a key player, she’s solid in the midfield and I expect her to grow as a player through the second half of the season,” Gipp said of her midfielder, one of 10 underclassmen on the Tigers’ roster.
On Tuesday, Northport continued its push through the second half of the season when it traveled to Connetquot – a team they defeated 4-0 in September. But for Gipp, every game is taken with the same diligence and seriousness; especially in “historically tough” matchups like those against Connetquot (3-5-1).
“We expect it to be a little closer than the first time, but the girls just need to maintain what they’ve been doing,” she said.
Today, at 4 p.m., the Tigers will look to maintain their composure once again as they welcome Half Hollow Hills East (5-3) for a home game – the second-to-last regular season game scheduled to be played at Northport High School this season.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, October 9, 2014; A26)