With 16 New York State championships to their credit the South Side Cyclones girls varsity soccer team is perennially one of the best teams in the state.
Under head coach Shannon McEntee, the team, fresh off another state championship last season, has continued the school’s winning tradition and run of excellence in the sport.
McEntee, last year’s New York State Girls Soccer Coach of the Year, is now in her third year as head coach of the Lady Cyclones after serving as junior varsity head coach for four years.
She began playing soccer when she was 12 years old in intramural leagues and eventually moved up to playing in travel leagues. McEntee then went on to play four years of college soccer at Adelphi University.
Coaching was something that McEntee always saw herself doing, so when the junior varsity position opened up at South Side, she pounced on the opportunity.
“Soccer was always a big passion of mine,” McEntee said. “If I couldn’t play anymore, I definitely still wanted to stay involved with it.”
Since taking over as head coach, McEntee has gradually shifted to a more “free” style of playing, allowing the offense and defense to work together more as a whole unit. This style of play paid off last year as the Lady Cyclones captured another state championship in an epic four-overtime game, which McEntee says is the highlight of her coaching career thus far.
“The endless trial of overtimes, getting to the playoffs and then Katie [Ford] scoring with literally seconds to go is something that I won’t forget,” McEntee said.
As far as this season goes, McEntee and the team are trying to not look too far ahead.
“We take each game as a challenge so we don’t look too far forward,” McEntee said. “We just take it one day at a time.”
McEntee credits the team’s long-term success to the development of the players in the Rockville Centre Soccer Club.
“The RVC Soccer League has these girls so well-prepared that when they come into the high school they know how to play, they know the rules and they have the foundation,” McEntee said. “All we really have to do is tweak the style.”
McEntee serves as an educator off of the field, as well, working as a physical education and health teacher at the high school. She believes that her dual role as teacher and coach allows her to better get to know her students.
“I love it because it’s so different,” McEntee said. “The kids that you see sitting in your classrooms sometimes are a little shy and they don’t really raise their hand too much. Then you have the same kids on your soccer team and they are just so outgoing. I love the different dimension that you get to know the kids on two different levels.”
McEntee believes that the most rewarding part of being a coach is seeing the team compete together on the field.
“It’s great to see the girls perform and play everyday and to see their faces when they win is just awesome,” McEntee said.
So far this season, the girls have continued the tradition of excellence with a 6-0 start while outscoring their opponents 20-0.