By Rich Fisher
In Mike “Stinger” Hastings first season as Steinert girls soccer coach, the Spartans did not get their fifth win until Oct. 9, and had four losses and two ties to go along with it. In his second year, win No. 5 came on Oct. 13 and there were five losses and two ties attached.
What a difference some experience makes.
The youngsters who struggled through those growing pains have seemingly come to life the third year of the Stinger Era, as Steinert’s 4-1 victory at Nottingham today put the Spartans at 5-0.
“We have players who have been here,” Hastings said. “They know the work that had to be done and they did it. The senior leadership is really, really good this year. They’ve done everything I asked. Just being around and knowing what’s expected of them now, they know what to do.”
The coach feels that several key players have been seniors Aidan Sheehan, Cassidy Wood and Arianna Durling, junior Giana Pittaro, and sophomore Gabby DeLisa, who the coach said “has been a really good addition for us in the back.”
“The older girls are teaching the younger girls how it should be, and hopefully we can continue to do this.”
Sheehan, whose five goals are tied for the team lead with Pittaro, feels the experience has helped with familiarity.
“I think it’s our team chemistry,” she said. “We lost a few seniors last year but as a whole we’re an old team, we’ve been together for a while. I feel like we’ve bonded this year.”
They bonded like crazy in the first nine minutes of the second half against Nottingham. After dominating a scoreless first half, the Spartans got four goals within the first 8:47 of the second from Sheehan, Lynzie Morgan, Ashley Navarro and Pittaro, who also had two assists to give her a team-high four.
“Once you get that first one, you play a little more relaxed,” Hastings said. “And once we start clicking it’s kind of fun to watch. We get in constantly and put balls away.”
What’s impressive about Steinert is that Pittaro and Sheehan are hardly the only scorers. Morgan and Navarro have two goals apiece, while seven others have one.
“It’s awesome to know that it’s not just certain players that are getting the job done,” Sheehan said. “It’s a lot of different players getting the job done and there’s many girls who can do what they have to do.”
And are unselfish about it.
“It seems this team gets along,” Hastings said. “It’s really one of the first teams I’ve had where you take the starters out and they’re the ones cheering on the kids who were put in for them. It really is a team mentality.”
It’s also a winning mentality, which is something first-year Stars coach Christie “Fish” Fink is trying to establish down the street at Nottingham. Fink was Hastings’ JV coach at Steinert just two seasons ago and was quite familiar with some of the girls who did her team in today.
“They’re great, they work hard, they do the right stuff, they play good soccer,” she said. “They’re having a great year. They’ve earned it. We’ll get there one day.”
The Northstars started 2-0 and have lost four straight since. Their ranks are thin and subs are hard to come by, which hurt against the Spartans.
“I think our depth sometimes gets us a little bit,” said Fink, who got a goal from Emily Midura and some great saves from goalie Madison Colabella. “We just have to put 80 minutes together. Our performance is there sometimes and not there sometimes. We’re inconsistent right now.
“We’re young, we’re learning, we’re getting used to each other. A lot of girls are playing 80 minutes, it’s hard on their bodies, hard on them mentally. But they’re working. I love this group of girls, they’re the best group I could ask for. We’ll get there. We just have to keep working.”
The Spartans JV team defeated Nottingham to move to 4-0-1 for the season. Head coach Chelsea Pyontek noted that veteran backs Cara Bernstein, Lauren Kieffer and Sofia Laiko, and veteran midfielders Maddie Klein, Crysten Wood and Teresa Focarelli have provided solid play and good leadership. She also praised the work of goalies Sara Sarno and Jordan Jones.
Although his team is 1-3, Nottingham coach Rob Nosari feels he is getting strong play from sweeper Javda Driver, left-midfielder Mia Sandoval and midfielder/striker Lauren Ahern.
Follow Rich Fisher on twitter @fish4scores