Byram Hills was one of our Tuesday girls soccer stops. The following is my story, a photo and some extra notes. –Nancy
ARMONK After a great debut, the inevitable question is, ‘What are you going to do for an encore?”
That’s the question second-year Byram Hills girls soccer coach Mike Martino faces after guiding the Bobcats to their first state regional win.
Martino refrained from mentioning another possible state run. But, with his players doing 18 consecutive runs from the near to the far 18-yard line on the school’s turf field Tuesday (or as many as they could last), it was apparent he’s serious about giving his team the best chance to do just that.
Senior goalie Emma Giardina figures Martino, who formerly coached at Blind Brook, was the program’s missing ingredient.
“We had the talent. We needed someone to guide us,” she said.
Which Martino did — all the way to a 20-2 record. Byram Hills’ best season concluded with a 1-0 regional-final loss to Goshen.
“It was no surprise,” Martino said of the record. “They really did a fantastic job living up to what people were expecting them to achieve.”
The bar is now at least as high.
Junior Carly Barnett, last year’s 22-goal/14-assist center-mid/forward wunderkind, is back. So are Jessica Kennett, Rachel Pollack and Remi Godner, who add strength to the middle.
Then there’s 22-goal/16-assist Nicole Hoffman, who’s currently out with a leg injury but who’s expected back.
And, of course, there’s Giardina, who posted eight shutouts.
Regardless of whether Martino vocalizes it, his players see advancing past the regional final as their mission.
Extra kicks: Martino characterized Godner as being akin to the team’s play-calling quarterback. … Giardina (shown deflecting a shot away during Tuesday’s practice) is known for her good hands and feet and her knack for playing her angles well. She’s also loves the air and ball. She has played goalie since she was about eight years old and this will be her fourth year on varsity. She’s a win-hungry, shut0ut-hungry netminder and that’s nothing but positive. Also positive is the fact she loves throwing herself at the ball. The diminutive Giardina, who says she has a passion for playing goal, explained, “I love to catch the ball. I love diving everywhere and flopping everywhere.” More often than not, that’s in front of the ball. … Martino says he wants his team to “come out and play every game like it’s their last game. I want them to perform and to have fun,” he said, adding, “The sky’s the limit with this group.” That said, he added, “With your team, there’s always a question. You hope for the big stage but you’re proud if they give 150 percent, no matter where it falls.”