After three straight seasons being knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals, the girls of Mepham Lady Pirates soccer look to change their luck and take their abilities further into the playoffs this season, led by Coach Jim McManus.
"I think we have a really good shot at winning the league and get into the playoffs," McManus said. "For the last three years in a row we've made it to the quarterfinals and lost and we hope this year to get past the quarterfinals. That's my goal, to make it to the semi's."
Last season the Lady Pirates had a record of 5-6-1 and were eliminated in the playoffs by East Meadow, who later went on to face Massapequa, two teams that McManus refers to as "the powerhouses in Nassau County."
To defeat these teams, as well as others, the coach said the team would need to stick to their game plan of strong defense-oriented soccer.
"We've always been a very defensive team so we keep the goals down, and that's how we're going to play," he said. "We're going to play very defensively and try to take advantage of scoring opportunities when they come up."
The Lady Pirates lost five seniors from last season, including halfback Kasey Estey and goaltender Sharon Aluma.
Last season was also plagued by injuries, including a player breaking her leg just two games into the season. This hasn't been an issue in the off-season for McManus.
One player lost to injury last season, center-halfback Jill Picinich, will make her return to the team. Picinich tore her ACL prior to the 2009/10 season and remained sidelined for the season's entirety. Her addition, McManus said, will positively impact the team.
"I know its tough coming back from a torn ACL and I know she's been working hard and playing year round. Since as soon as she was cleared to play she's been playing. I'm hoping for the best, even if she's only 80 percent, she will be a tremendous asset," he said.
McManus will also rely on the abilities of seniors Sali and Safi Ayinde.
"They are just tremendous soccer players," he added. "I had their sister who has a full ride to play in Maryland. She's a big time player; it must be in their blood or something because they are both good."
Mepham will start their season at home on Sept. 15 at 4:30 p.m. against Elmont.