After a multitude of down years on the soccer pitch, things are starting to look up for the Clarke girls. A young, talented group appears set to return a program, that once captured a state championship, back to prominence.
After last Friday afternoon’s 7-1 victory at Roosevelt, the Rams improved their overall record to 10-2-1 (10-1 in Nassau Conference AB6.) Nicolette Normandia scored three goals and assisted on another to lead the way. Freshman Alyssa Fasce scored her team-leading 21st goal.
“So far, things have been very good for us,” coach Becky Mattia said. “The past few years have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. The numbers were way down and we didn’t have a junior varsity team. The chemistry is great, this season. There’s more interest and enthusiasm, and winning definitely helps the morale.”
While Clarke’s roster is chock-full of underclassmen, the team does not lack experience. Freshman keeper Kaitlyn Vo is in her first year with the varsity, but she has been playing the position since she was seven. Vo has five shutouts in league play, and saved 11 of 12 shots in a 1-1 tie with a Mineola team that is playing well in a stronger conference.
“Kaitlyn is a great communicator, she controls the eighteen, and is an excellent shot stopper,” Mattia said. “She showed a lot in the game against Mineola. She’s a keeper. She’s been training at the position for a long time.”
The team’s defense has been strong with sophomore sweeper Ashley Tighe and freshman stopper Keira Heavey manning the middle. Tighe has good speed and is quick to react. Heavey is a physical presence who is good in the air. Senior captain Isabella Michaelis, junior captain Stephanie Fratianni, and sophomore Ella Noonan handle the outside for the Rams.
Normandia is skilled and savvy. The freshman center midfielder not only finds the back of the net, but has a knack for putting teammates in position to score. Normandia has scored 10 goals and assisted on 12 others. Freshman Cynthia Velez, a more defensive-minded midfielder, has six assists. Senior captain Andrea Fasce and junior Liana La Fata are skilled and athletic on the wings.
Alyssa Fasce and junior captain Alesandra Melendez have been a terrific tandem at forward. Fasce has had six multiple goal games, and scored all four of the team’s goals in a 4-2 victory at Elmont back on Sept. 26. Melendez, who has 11 goals and four assists, has epitomized consistency. She has scored at least one point in all 11 league contests. Sophomore Taylor Merget has been solid off the bench.
“This is as excited as we’ve been in quite some time,” Mattia said. “We have a great bunch of girls who like to practice and enjoy being around one another. There’s molding, learning, and coaching to be done. Expectations are high.”
Clarke closes out the season at home against Malverne/East Rockaway on Monday, Oct. 22 at 4:45 p.m.