There are no mulligans in soccer.
But if there were, Great Neck South coach Bill Neville would take one for his team’s start Monday afternoon against Plainview JFK.
The Rebels gave up four goals in the opening 20 minutes, but played well for the final hour in a 6-2 home loss in Nassau AA-2.
“I think if we got off to a better start, it would have been a different result,” Neville said. “We match up better than the game score said. Plainview played very well. Their passing was very good and on target, but we have to disrupt that better.”
Neville said his team is still adjusting to the speed of play on the varsity level and that was evident early against Plainview JFK (4-0-1, 1-0-1 Nassau AA-2) with Madalyn Fernbach, Jessica Bernstein, Lauren Azzaro and Barbara Badeer putting Great Neck South (3-2-0, 2-2-0) on its heels.
Ashley Stromberg added a goal in each half for Plainview JFK, which capitalized on the Rebels miscues.
“A lot of it was that we weren’t smart,” Neville said. “We had some plays where it was just wild kicks and not balls to feet or to the corners. For some reason we just tried to kick it up the middle.”
The deficit could have continued to spiral out of control, but the Rebels rallied. Junior Betsy Tanenbaum scored her fifth goal of the year to cut Great Neck South’s deficit to 5-1 at the half.
“I wanted to see how they responded to adversity and they responded well, especially in the center mid area,” Neville said. “ I challenged them to be strong and be better and they did. It’s not a lack of effort, the girls are trying really hard. It’s just this is the first time they’re playing at this speed, but they’re getting there.”
Neville is encouraged by the play of Tannenbaum and Alexa Epstein in the attacking third. Epstein, a senior forward, netted her team-leading ninth goal of the season in the 65th minute, a well-struck left-footed shot from 14 yards out.
“She’s off to a great start,” Neville said of Epstein. “She’s really exploding, so is Betsy Tannenbaum, she’s a junior, a playmaker and there’s no quit in her. She’s definitely a leader on and off the field, a phenomenal athlete.”
The loss was disappointing, but Neville is encouraged by what he sees from the Rebels. He’s confident his squad will bounce back, beginning with a game scheduled for Wednesday at Hicksville.
“As the season goes on, we’ll get stronger,” Neville said. “They were just off today.”