After watching the South Side Lady Cyclones girls soccer team during the 2012 postseason, it was clear that a number of factors led to the team's 17th state title.
The team boasts a trio of forwards that can score in any situation, a midfield that can create plays out of nothing, a defense that is stingier than Scrooge on Christmas and a goalie that allowed just one goal in the playoffs.
But ask any member of the team why the program is so successful and you'll get one answer: tradition.
"This is a complete family going back many, many years," head coach Shannon McEntee told Patch. "The traditions that they have and the superstitions and all that stuff, it gets passed along the lines. So a girl that plays this year and a girl that played 15 years ago do the same stuff."
It's that same family-like bond and tradition that has yielded a staggering 17 state championships and 24 Long Island championships over the last several decades.
In the 2012 playoffs, the Lady Cyclones outscored their opponents 20-1 and had a different hero step up every game, like senior Michaela Lynch in the state championship game against Janesville Dewitt.
Lynch tapped in a cross from junior Christina Klaum to give South Side a 1-0 lead and assisted on a goal from Klaum later in the game to secure the team's second consecutive Class A title, a perfect 19-0-1 season and a No. 4 national ranking.
"It was crazy. I was so excited," Lynch said of her role in the game. "I was really surprised too because I usually don't score."
The graduating midfielder, like her coach, said that the team's incredible playoff run came down to one thing.
"It definitely comes down to tradition," Lynch said. "Our team is like a family. ... Aug. 1 we start captains practice and our main goal is to win states — that's all we focus on and [why] we work so hard."
However, not everything happens on the field.
A noticeable trait of the Lady Cyclones is how loud their bench is. The main culprit behind the noise on the sideline is South Side's Hannah Serling.
"We all feel that it's not even just cheering, it's wanting our team to do well," Serling said. "... It's a big factor for our team because we are a family and that support when we get tired just means a lot to the team, plus it shows our heart — we want it more."
The team's resiliency and constant support stem from what multiple players and McEntee have said is the "family" they have all become, and not just in the sense of the team's twins Katie and Allie Ford.
"Honestly, at the end of the day, I'd rather go [home] with this team than my own family," Serling said jokingly. "... We're together all the time. Even now when the season's over I get rides home from the soccer girls, we go out to lunch, we go out to dinner — it's incredible."
"I wouldn't trade anything in the world for anyone on the team," she added.
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