Preseason girls soccer: No. 13 SI Academy
Staten Island Academy earned another PSAA title last year aided by a group of senior soccer stars that Tigers coach Darlene Crowe labeled the “Core Four.”
Danielle Fuller, Gabrielle Tricorico, Demi Quagliariello and Sarah Valero each provided the leadership, scoring and other attributes that helped the Tigers finish 15-3 and win their fourth league title in five years. Those players were crucial in two trips to the NYSAISAA final and were talented enough to earn college scholarships.
This season will have a different feel for the Tigers, but the talent cupboard isn’t bare, according to the 10th-year coach. Staten Island Academy feels it can compete for another league title with important starters returning along with a sprinkling of new additions.
“We will not change our philosophy. That is being strong up the middle. The spine of the team is the group up the middle,” Crowe said. “It’s like baseball where you want your catcher, your middle infielders and your centerfield to be your best players. We are going to score and then defend.”
The Tigers will rely on a strong defense and midfield to create scoring chances against contenders such as Portledge, Berkeley Carroll and Long Island Lutheran who are also vying for the PSAA title.
The defense will be young with sophomores Aurora Tormey and Sade Dinkins starting at stopper and sweeper, respectively. They’re a quick tandem who can interchange roles, and have the ball dribbling skills to push up to the middle of the field and aid the attack. Crowe is looking at some new additions to fill the rest of the defense.
Experience will be provided by Deanna Lambiasi, who will start at goalkeeper for the fourth straight year. As one of only two seniors on the squad -- the other is forward Sam Avis -- Lambiasi says she is ready to provide leadership in the defensive third.
“Defensively we’re going to be OK. I think we should be strong in the middle,” Lambiasi said. “We have such new players. There is only a couple of veterans so it will take some time for us to learn how to play. We have to adjust as a team to a new style.”
The midfield will be the focal point in creating the scoring opportunities. Janine Nunez will anchor the midfield, and the 5-foot-4-inch junior can pass and score just as effectively with either foot. Monica Valero, a junior who is the young sister of Sarah Valero, and Kelsey McLaughlin have the speed and ability to become scoring weapons. Both are battling nagging injuries, but Crowe says the Tigers will become a lot harder to defend if they are healthy.
Avis, the other senior on the team, will start at forward alongside junior Molly Maugeri. Shannon Motley is a freshman who Crowe says has the skills to be a versatile contributor somewhere on the field.
Avis has been happy with the camaraderie and communication the Tigers have so far in practices. Those are positives that will go a long way for this team to forge a new identity, and move forward in a run for another league title.
“I definitely think that no one is expecting much from us,” Avis said. “But that will be something that is going to be on our side because we are going to come out strong this year.”
Check out our preseason No. 12 team Saturday at 10 a.m.