By Owen O'Brien
Newsday Player of the Year: Gianna Paul, Whitman, F, Sr.
If Gianna Paul was on the field, Whitman always had a chance to win the game.
The dynamic forward with elite speed and vision received double and triple teams any time the ball was near her. After being unable to play varsity soccer until her junior season due to playing on an outside academy team that didn’t allow its girls to play for their high schools, Whitman girls soccer coach Mike Moccia knew exactly what type of player would be entering his program.
"I’ve never seen such an impactful player who can change a game," Moccia said. "She’s not only a super talent but at any moment, she’s a gamechanger. We haven’t had a lot of them, that’s for sure, a person that could change a game like that. And we could be in any game just because we had Gianna."
Paul had 22 goals and eight assists over 16 games en route to being named Newsday’s girls soccer Player of the Year. She is committed to play at the University of Alabama.
Paul had two goals and an assist as No. 11 Whitman defeated No. 6 Sachem North in the first round of the Suffolk Class AA playoffs. Whitman lost in the second round to eventual county champion Smithtown West. Whitman finished 9-7 this season after finishing at or below .500 in the prior four seasons.
She is also a state champion track and field runner.
"She’s probably one of the best individual game changers we’ve ever had," Moccia said. "So when you have a player like that on your team, anything can happen."
Nassau Player of the Year: Lia Howard, Massapequa, M/F, Sr.
Lia Howard had a record-setting season and varsity tenure for Massapequa. She set the program record for assists in a season (29) this year and graduates with a program-record 50 assists over three seasons en route to be named Newsday’s Nassau Player of the Year.
"I don’t even have words, I think I’m still trying to grasp that I hold that record because this is such an amazing program and to say that I held a record for it is just unreal," Howard said. "And I’m so proud of my teammates for helping me achieve that record because I really couldn’t have done it without them."
Howard, who is committed to play at the University of Iliinois, led Massapequa to its first state title since 2015. She led Long Island with 41 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in a 20-0-1 season.
"She’s kind of my go-to for soccer," said forward Gianna Savella, who was on the finishing end of many of those assists. "We’ve always grown up playing together and I feel not looking for her on the field is going to be weird, but I know she’s going to do some big things at Illinois."
CHSAA Player of the Year: Emily Riggins, St. Anthony’s, M, Sr.
The hard-nosed offensive and defensive midfielder had 11 goals and seven assists in a 20-0 state-champion season for St. Anthony’s. The three-year varsity player also scored in St. Anthony’s 3-0 championship victory over St. Mary’s (Lancaster). Riggins is committed to play at St. John’s.
Gianna Amendola, Rocky Point, F, Sr.
The goal machine led Long Island with 34 goals and finished second on Long Island in points (42) after adding eight assists. She led Rocky Point to an 18-0 overall record before falling to East Islip in the Suffolk Class A final.
Nikki Brunner, East Islip, D, Sr.
The hard-nosed defender was a key piece to East Islip’s championship season, as she anchored a backline that allowed multiple goals in only four games in a 14-2-4 year.
Fiona Kilian, MacArthur, M/D, Sr.
She was called upon to play multiple positions due to injuries and game situations and excelled at all of them. She added three goals and three assists with great field vision and foot skills and is committed to play at Xavier.
Cristina LiCalzi, South Side, D, Sr.
Her defensive skill and leadership led South Side to its second straight county title and first Long Island Class A championship since 2014 before falling in the state final to New Hartford, 2-1. She constantly goes against the opposing team’s top offensive players
Madison Micheletti, Islip, M/F, Sr.
The five-year starter has the initiate ability to create plays for herself and others, finishing with 12 goals and 11 assists this season. She is committed to play at Old Dominion.
Thalia Morisi, Massapequa, M, Sr.
She played some of her best soccer in the most important games, scoring two goals in a state championship victory. She is a calming influence at midfield and helps facilitate the offense and had 10 goals and 11 assists on the season.
Olivia Perez, St. Anthony’s, M/F, Sr.
The technically sound, crafty attacking center midfielder/forward proved to be very dangerous in 1-on-1 situations throughout the season as she totaled 15 goals and 10 assists in a 20-0 CHSAA state championship season. She is committed to play at Holy Cross.
Gianna Savella, Massapequa, F, Sr.
The gifted playmaker had at least one point in 17 of 21 games for the undefeated state Class AA champions. The Syracuse commit finished with 23 goals and 13 assists, including a goal and an assist in a 2-1 victory over Smithtown West in the Long Island Class AA championship.
Nassau Coach of the Year: Bruce Stegner, Massapequa
He guided Massapequa to its first state championship since 2015 and the program’s eighth overall.
Suffolk Coach of the Year: Ben Diallo, East Islip
He guided East Islip to its first Suffolk Class A championship since 2008.
Alyssa Abramson, Patchogue-Medford, D, Sr.
Sonni Adams, St. Anthony’s, D, Sr.
Kate Alexander, East Islip, F, Jr.
Madison Apicella, Sachem East, F, Sr.
Julia DeTurris, Hicksville, M, Sr.
Marryn Gruhn, Northport, M, Jr.
Samantha Hannwacker, Smithtown East, D, Sr.
Hailey Hnis, MacArthur, F, Sr.
Emma Hospodka, South Side, M, Sr.
Riley Miller, Syosset, M/D, Sr.
Madison O’Connor, Hauppauge, D, Sr.
Samiya Reid, Floral Park, F, Sr.
Savannah Rogers, North Babylon, GK, Jr.
Bella Romano, Syosset, F, Sr.
Emma Romano, Syosset, D/F, Sr.
Luciana Setteducate, Mepham, F/M, Sr.
Mackenzie Stickelman, Glenn, F, Sr.
Lexie Thompson, MacArthur, GK, Jr.
Julia Tylar, Smithtown West, D, Sr.
Meghan White, St. John the Baptist, M, Sr.