With a 1-0 win against visiting Herricks to open its conference schedule, the Valley Stream Central girls’ soccer team started a spree that would last until the clubs’ next encounter, when VSC’s four-game win-streak ended Oct. 1 with a 4-2 road loss to the Highlanders.
Each club has been the other’s nemesis, and that has been the story in Nassau Conference AB7, with VSC at 6-1, 6-3 overall, heading into the regular season’s denouement locked in a first-place tie with Herricks after splitting the season series. Should both schools win out, they will face one another in a play-in game for the AB7 title, with only the champion advancing to the playoffs.
“Obviously we’ve got business to take care of first, but these girls are really hungry for another shot at Herricks,” said tenth-year VSC coach Mike Caputo, whose team has two remaining regular season contests, hosting Roosevelt Wednesday, after press time, and travelling to face Elmont next week. “We played well against [Herricks] the first time, but the second time we weren’t as mentally prepared as we should have been. I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
If current trends hold, the Lady Eagles will at least get the desired rubber match, if not take the title outright. VSC owns AB7’s top defense, and has outscored conference foes 24-5, earning five of six victories by shutout – including its most recent outing, a 2-0 win at home over Sewhanhaka last Friday.
The author of said shutouts, VSC goalkeeper Olivia Nelson – a junior – would seem to be headed for a second straight appearance on the all-conference roster. “Olivia’s one of the most athletic girls I’ve ever coached,” Caputo said. “She’s so fast she can stop anything. I’ve got to give credit also to my other defenders, who have come through tremendously.”
To shore up a depleted backfield, senior team captain Madison Birdsall and junior Nayeli Melgarejo – each a second-year starter – volunteered to switch from offensive positions at the outset of VSC’s campaign, and have turned in solid seasons at left and right back respectively. “Madison can do anything we need anywhere on the field,” Caputo said. “She’s the glue that holds us together. Nayeli has been a workhorse. It’s nice because we weren’t certain how good our defense would be.”
Another nice surprise, Caputo said, has been the fine debut of freshman outside midfielder Danyelle Robe, who leads VSC – and is fifth in AB7 – with six goals. “Danyelle can score from anywhere,” Caputo said. “We keep her in every minute of every game.”
The Lady Eagles’ midfield, which Caputo credits as his team’s long suit, also has seen the further emergence of a second impressive underclassman – two-year starting sophomore Natalie Mendoza, an offensive spark at center middie. “Natalie’s our best player,” Caputo said. “She dribbles through entire teams, like breaking through water.”
Caputo concluded: “We’re young but the