Coming off a season-opening loss to Hempstead, Westbury (0-2) dropped their second straight game, 2-0, to Freeport Thursday, Sept. 24 —a team Westbury girls soccer coach Kori Petrelli calls a friendly rival.
Many girls on the two squads have played together outside of school, including at a summer league that Freeport coach Tracie Roberts hosted this year. This season will also mark the third annual Breast Cancer Awareness game between Westbury and Freeport, in which the parents bring cake, girls put ribbons in their hair and the result of the game is secondary to just competing together. Such a tradition makes each conference matchup between the teams a bit more lighthearted.
“They come, they give each other hugs,” Petrelli said. “[Roberts and I] have such a professional relationship and a great friendship together so I think it just makes the girls a little bit more amicable towards each other.”
But that doesn’t mean the girls from Westbury weren’t looking for a better performance from last year’s rendezvous with Freeport—a 6-1 defeat.
“It was much closer,” said Petrelli in her seventh season as head coach. “I think growing with the program and creating a program year after year, I have a lot of the same girls the last two years and we’re able to build off of that and we’re able to get more players.”
Freeport’s Melinda Malave struck first, settling a cross and guiding it inside the right post past Westbury goalie Kylah Bolling to open the scoring just 12 minutes into the game.
Westbury was on the defensive much of the contest as Freeport assaulted the net with golden opportunities. With nine minutes remaining in the game, the visitors finally notched their second goal—a blast from Yanori Miranda—to help seal the victory against a stagnant Westbury offense killed by offside penalties.
But despite Freeport’s lopsided time of possession, Westbury’s 27-girl roster kept fresh legs on the field, anchored in the defensive zone by senior midfielder Jeslie Flores as well as Bolling, who made 17 saves on the night.
“My defense really held it down today and really delivered,” said Petrelli. “I think that was just so important to them being successful and losing [2-0] but losing with pride so to speak.”
Though the Westbury attack was quiet—finding their only scoring chances on corner kicks and a direct kick in the second half that sailed high and wide—forwards Sarah Worsham and Jessica Galeas made their presence known, gracing the sidelines with grit and speed.
Playing Westbury every year, whether in conference play, a non-league game or a scrimmage, Roberts has seen her opponent progress from a team with just three wins in the last three seasons to one who can compete.
“I saw them playing together as a team, I saw them able to distribute the ball in a way that a soccer team plays. It wasn’t just kickball,” said Roberts. “They really kind of got the concept and before this it was very tough for them because they worked hard but not smart so I think they’ve come a long way and their coach has a lot to do with that.”
The Green Dragons get another opportunity against Freeport on Oct. 7 during the third annual Breast Cancer game. Prior to that, they have an away game against Uniondale on Sept. 30 at 4:30 p.m. and a home game against Great Neck, Friday, Oct. 2 at 4:15 p.m.