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Soccer Stars Take On New Challenges

Massapequa H.S. Champs Now Playing for Binghamton

Taylor McCavanagh, Alyssa Staubitz, and Kerry Sullivan are accustomed to playing soccer together. The three Massapequa teammates have played four years of varsity soccer together, in addition to playing on travel teams during the off season. This fall begins a new season for the three friends, with a change of scenery. McCavanagh, Staubitz, and Sullivan will join Binghamton University’s women’s soccer team and Coach Sarah McClellan for the 2009-2010 season.

“The interesting thing is that each of these players was identified and recruited as individual players,” McClellan said. “It just so happens that they have come from similar high school or club soccer backgrounds.”

“We never really planned on going to college together and I never really thought about it before it happened,” Sullivan said. “However, after going on our official visit together, Taylor and I both realized we loved the school.”

Staubitz suffered a torn ACL during her sophomore and junior years, complicating recruitment efforts. She was still deciding on colleges when McCavanagh and Sullivan committed to Binghamton.

“When I told Taylor and Kerry that I was thinking about Binghamton, they urged me to go,” Staubitz said.

From Grade School Onward

This coming season at Binghamton will mark the 10th year that McCavanagh and Sullivan have played together. They met in fifth grade of elementary school and got to know each other through travel soccer with the Massapequa Crunch and East Islip Impact squad. Staubitz met Sullivan in middle school and became friends with McCavanagh when high school soccer began in ninth grade. The upcoming season at Binghamton will be Staubitz’ fifth year with McCavanagh and Sullivan.

All three players took up soccer around the age of 5 or 6 years old, after watching older siblings excel on the soccer field and in other team sports.

“I first started playing soccer because my older sister did,” McCavanagh said. “She went on to play college soccer when I was in sixth grade and at that time, I knew I wanted to do the same.”

The trio has not stopped playing soccer since then, even playing during the winter and spring when other sports were in season. McCavanagh and Sullivan were members of their high school’s basketball team. Similarly, Staubitz played lacrosse during her freshman year of high school, but soccer was her main priority where sports were concerned.

“They [the lacrosse team] did not allow missed practices and games for other things, and of course, I chose to pursue soccer over lacrosse,” Staubitz said.

Massapequa High School has won six straight Nassau County Championships. According to Coach Bruce Stegner, the trio contributed greatly to those wins.

“Kerry is an offensive player who has good touch and can be very physical,” Stegner said. “She can be a goal scorer. Taylor is more of a playmaker, who distributes the ball. Alyssa is a tenacious defender who has very good quickness, balance, and 1 vs. 1 defending skills.”

The trio is looking for the same success at Binghamton that they experienced at Massapequa High, both on and off the playing field. Each said their first visit to Binghamton made all the difference in deciding where they would find a home away from home for the next four years.

“I chose Binghamton University because after being recruited by Coach Sarah [McClellan], I came to visit the school and absolutely loved it,” McCavanagh said. “I love the campus and athletic and academic programs.”

Her teammates both agreed that Binghamton’s reputation for excellence in the classroom and on the playing fields have been the most important factors in their college decisions.

“The main reason I chose Binghamton University was because of its high academic standards and its excellent athletic programs,” Sullivan said. “As soon as I had my first overnight with the team, I knew it was the university I wanted to attend.”

Friendship Still Strong

Outside of soccer, McCavanagh and Staubitz will live in the same suite for their freshman year. Along with Sullivan, they are excited to meet new people, but grateful for a few familiar faces.

“I think that it will be extremely beneficial to have them experience the new adventure along with me,” Staubitz said. “Many people have a hard time transitioning from high school into college, so I am happy that I have two good friends to share it with.”

In the eight years that the women’s soccer team has been a Division I program, they have rarely had a group of high school teammates together, let alone two groups of three teammates in the same recruiting class.

The Massapequa teammates will be joined by another set of three from the same graduating class- sisters Lisa and Meghan Campbell of Farmingdale, and teammate Carly Kirschner from Dix Hills. The Campbells and Kirschner played soccer together at Half Hollow Hills High School. Massapequa does not play against Half Hollow Hills and all six players will meet for the first time at Binghamton.

Two continuing players from Maine Endwell High School in Binghamton, Stefani Knopick and Taylor Kucharski, will be joined by fellow Maine Endwell teammate Jamie Holliday this season.

“It is a unique advantage that many of them have played together already,” McClellan said. “It is a big jump from high school and club soccer to the collegiate level; I expect the transition to be somewhat easier for this class since they come in with an understanding and comfort level of several of their teammates.”