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The Girls Academy May 20, 2024

Best Defensive Units in the Girls Academy’s Northeast Conference (Spring 2024)

With the 2023-2024 season entering the final stretch, SoccerWire checks back in on the Girls Academy’s Northeast Conference with a look at some of the top defensive units.

As anyone who has followed soccer in the Northeastern part of the unit states knows, defense has always been a key element at the youth levels. Last season, numerous GA teams from the Northeast Conference made the National Playoffs thanks in large part to their defensive work. The conference also had two teams make the National Championship game in their respective age groups, with South Shore Select 09 claiming top honors and NEFC 06 finishing second.

(More Top Defensive Units Around the GA: Mid-Atlantic | Mid-America | Mountain West)

Here are some of the top performing defensive units from teams from across the GA Northeast Conference in the U15-U19 age groups.

(Stats below reflect games played through May 17, 2024)

South Shore Select 09: Last season’s National Champions have put themselves in position for another playoff run and a chance at back-to-back titles. Earned three consecutive shutouts including a 4-0 defeat of Seacoast United last weekend to put them into the top spot of the Northeastern Conference (9-2-1, 28 points). Defenders Alexa Hoff and Taylor Bello have led a talented, experienced backline that have earned a .58 Goals Against average. Both were also selected to participate in the GA’s Northeastern and US Soccer Talent ID events this spring.

STA 09: Goalkeepers Charlotte Nelson (USYNT ID Center invitee) and  Ayla Sherman alongside their defensive line (Lulu Wenger, Gianna Laratta, Amiyah Soto, Annabella Quinn, Kaley Potaki, and Brenna Buraszeski)  have booked five shutouts this season, including most recently a 2-0 win over New York SC on Saturday. They have yet to allow more than two goals in a conference game this season.

NEFC 09: After qualifying for last year’s GA National Playoffs, NEFC are looking for more this season. Their defense have more than held their own allowing just a goal per game which is third lowest in the U15 Northeast Conference. Goalkeeper Camden Grant and defenders Paynter Maher and Julia Kaminski form the corps of a strong defensive nucleus looking to finish the season strong.

STA 08: Allowed just one goal in their last seven conference games, earning shutouts over Syracuse Development Academy (5-0), Cedar Stars Academy-Bergen (1-0), New York SC (3-0), South Shore Select (2-0), Seacoast United (2-0), and Long Island SC (4-0) before grinding out a 1-1 draw on the road against New York. Defenders Keala Cicchino, Ella DiCostanzo, Juliet Givoni, Catalina Mangone, Caroline Pringle, Kate Reigle, Zoe Nightingale, Mary Katherine DeBono, and Winslow Rowley have formed a tight cohesive unit in front of goal, pushing STA to the top of the U16 conference standings (11-0-2, 35 points). Any chances that do get through their imposing backline are immediately halted by goalkeeper Sienna Goldstein.

NEFC 08: Blanked RNY FC Youth 7-0 last weekend to keep up the pace with Oakwood Soccer Club ahead of their big match this weekend (both sides are level at 10-1-1 on 31 points. NEFC hold the tiebreaker on Goal Differential- 3.08 to 1.42). Their defense has been on point all season earning nine shutouts allowing more than one goal in a match once. Defenders Lyla Hill and Emma Goglia spearhead an experienced backline that made the National Playoffs last season and placed fourth at this year’s Champions Cup.

Oakwood SC 08: Coming into their big match against NEFC Oakwood are looking strong. OSC have won each of their last five matches while not conceding a goal in their last four. Defender Hannah Coccaro was recently selected to participate in the Northeast Talent ID event after having a standout season for Oakwood. Thanks to Coccaro and the backlines work, Oakwood have earned six shutouts this season.

Long Island SC 07: With two games to play, Long Island find themselves right in the hunt at the top of the table (8-3-2, 26 points). Their defense has played a major role in their success this season, earning shutout victories over New York SC (1-0), Cedar Stars Academy-Bergen (1-0), Syracuse Development Academy (2-0 twice), and RNY FC Youth (3-0).

LISC defensive is comprised of a talented set of 2025s: Caitlin Berry, Amira Elrington-Edwards, Sarah Jablonsky, Jessica Martin (Hofstra verbal commit), Dalia Morrelli, Gwyneth Schulman (St. Bonaventure verbal commit), Nicole Matute, Megan Youngberg, Madison AbiAoun, Olivia Jungkunst (Hofstra verbal commit – primarily an offensive player who has filled in defensively), and Myla Tizzard. Goalkeepers Aya Voynovich (Northeast Talent ID invitee) and Brooke Delzatto have combined to earn a .92 Goals Against average in conference action this year.

New York SC 07: Currently sitting atop the U17 standings (10-2-2, 32 points) New York are looking primed for a deep run in the National Playoffs. Defender Natalie Chudowsky has become a fixture in the USWYNT set up, earning a call-up in February after a strong club season. Alongside Parker Yates, Gwen McManus (2025- Binghamton verbal commit) and Baila Kessler NYSC have earned five shutouts in league play.

NEFC 07: Earned back-to-back victories over RNY FC Youth (10-1) and Syracuse Development Academy (3-0) to improve their record to 7-2-3 on 24 points with three games remaining. The stout defensive work exhibited in their last two matches has been their calling card all season, posting a 1.25 Goals Against average. In Champions Cup play, they were able to reach the Quarterfinals after having blanked SC Del Sol 1-0 (they also had a strong showing against eventual champions Colorado Rush, losing by a narrow 1-0 margin). Goalkeeper Madelyn Macdonald (2026) and defenders Averie Hoff (2025-Boston verbal commit), Amanda Peck (2025-Miami verbal commit), and Piper Crotty (2025-Merrimack verbal commit) have worked to form a solid spine for NEFC giving the team structure and organization as they build out of the back.

STA 05/06: Held off Long Island SC (4-1) and New York SC (4-2) to strengthen their hold on first play in the U19 bracket. Defenders Alexis Dendis (2024-Middle Tennessee, United Soccer Coaches All-Region), Ava Vissagio (2024- TCNJ), Kate Giglio (2024-Hamilton), McKenna Hogan, Molly Mack (2025-High Point verbal commit) and goalkeeper Adelaide Paredes (2024- Mount St. Mary’s, Portugal U19 call-up) have pulled off five shutouts in conference play this season and have STA looking sharp with two league games remaining.

NEFC 06/05: Last year’s U17 National Finalists are looking to win it all in 2023-2024. They have put themselves in a strong position for another deep playoff run (8-1-3, 27 points), with their defense playing a key role in their success. Thanks to the work of defenders Lilly Stocks (2024-Northeastern), Tessa Broderick (2024-Middlebury), Sasha Ceol (2024-MIT), Grayson Edwards (2024-Bryant), and CJ McCarthy (2024-St. Anselm) and goalkeepers Anna Shamgochian (2024-Yale) and Katie Valentine (2024-Westfield State) NEFC have posted a conference-low .58 Goals Against average.