Boys soccer wins LI Championship, advance to states

The squad celebrates after winning the Long Island Championship against Walt Whitman with a score of 2-1.

Chris Spina

The squad celebrates after winning the Long Island Championship against Walt Whitman with a score of 2-1.

Zach Siegal, Staff Writer

The boys varsity soccer team’s road to success at the Long Island Championship may have appeared to be an easy one to fans, but it was their hard work, grit, determination, and internal fire that brought them to the top.

“This group has many players who enjoy the companionship that a team sport provides. They are playful, but have exhibited a high work-rate, and have been very much on-task and disciplined during training and matches,” said head coach Mr. Don Fish.  “The captains, [junior] Jack Fridman and [senior] Savvas Christoforou, have helped cultivate the team behavior and approach to a significant degree.”  

On Saturday, Nov. 10, the boys varsity soccer team wrapped up their history-making season.  For the first time ever in Port Washington, the team won the Nassau County Finals and the Long Island Championship.  This is a huge accomplishment not only for the team, but for Port Washington Men’s Soccer as a whole.

“We aimed to get to the County final. It took about three weeks before everybody could see that it was possible. Port had not won the Nassau County (Section VIII) title in soccer until this season,” said Coach Fish.

On Oct. 31, the boys competed at the Nassau County Championship against Massapequa at Mitchell Field.  A fan bus brought many fans of the Vikings to Mitchell Field as spectators.  The chants of “Go Port” seemed to dominate the cheers in the stands.  The crowd went silent as Massapequa scored a goal late in the first half, but the referees called the goal offsides.

In the second half, captain Christoforou scored the game-winning goal.  As soon as the whistle blew, signaling the end of the game, the players swarmed the field in celebration.

“It feels incredible. This was a great way to start my high school career as a soccer player. The rush of winning game after game and not only making it to states, but making history,” said freshman Connor Molloy, who was pulled up from the Junior Varsity team post-season.

Hoping to not only win the Nassau County Championship but also the Long Island Championship, the soccer team arrived in Coram, New York ready to keep the momentum alive.

In the first half, the Walt Whitman Wildcats scored to end the half with Port down 0-1. The Vikings seemed to get more energy in the second half, with Christoforou scoring the tying goal with 30 minutes remaining in the game.  Late in the second half, the Wildcats scored, but the officials called it offsides.

Then, finally, Port was given the perfect opportunity to tie the score up far into the second half. During a free kick, Christoforou crossed the ball to twelfth grader, Charlie Gilsenan, who headed it in the back of the net.  And with that, Port became the Long Island Champions.

“We thought we had a group that could challenge for Counties, we definitely grew as the season went on. We dealt with some bad results but we were able to learn from them and pick up form at the perfect time. Once we were in the playoffs we knew we could beat any team, and we proved that each time. Our road to the Long Island Championship was longer than anyone else would’ve endured and we showed each time our quality and class on our way to victory,” said assistant coach Mr. Stephan Brossard.

A police escort was waiting for the team as they got back into Port Washington, along with a welcome party of students, parents, and faculty.

Coach Fish and the players themselves maintained confidence in the team throughout the entire season, and he believes that this boosted the intense morale that lasted well into the playoffs.

“Any high school team can win one soccer match against almost any other high school team. Soccer can be oddly unfair in that way. We all believed that we had a strong chance to win the county final match [once we qualified to play in it]. The same beliefs developed regarding the Long Island Championship match [the NY State Quarter-Final match],” said Coach Fish.  “We knew we could win.”

The boys team consists of players that are not only highly skilled, but also extremely determined to succeed.

Throughout the season, the boys continuously supported one another and brought high energy to every practice, game, and scrimmage in order to force their teammates to improve. The strength of this bond was felt by the entire team, new freshman and veteran senior players alike.

“We had a different mindset coming into the season. That was to win every 50/50 ball and get to every second ball. With hours put into training per week, we mastered this and it proved to be successful. Also, our bond was much different than past years. I can truly call this group of young men my brothers as we did everything together from walking around the halls to pasta dinners the night before an important match. We have made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime and contributed to the schools history,” said Christoforou.

This season’s team not only performed better than any Port Washington soccer team did in the past, but the players also bonded together. This kinship was especially evident on Friday Nov. 9, as the team gathered together in their matching warm-up jerseys to leave Campus Drive for the State Tournament that weekend.

They walked the halls of school that day as celebrities and enjoyed their send-off in front of Schreiber.  With their heads held high, they boarded the bus to Middletown, New York, with coaches Mr. Fish and Mr. Brossard by their side. 

The boys had the support of the entire town as Port Washington’s fans cheered every step of the way during their journey to the Long Island Championships.  This remained true when the boys went to states.

Students, teachers, faculty members, and parents alike showed their support for the team. Weber students carried signs on Campus Drive wishing the team luck and the team was once again escorted by the Port Police out of town.

“I am proud of the way the school supported the team and of how the team supported each other. Watching the team walk through the hallway to the bus was an inspiration. They were focused, determined and demonstrated what good teams look like,” said Principal Dr. Ira Pernick.

On Saturday, November 20,  Port played against Clarence High School from Erie County at Middletown High School in Middletown, New York.  As the team and fans arrived in Middletown, the temperatures began to dip and snow began to fall.  Though the team lost, the players exhibited true determination throughout the game.  They dominated the field, but had a difficult time capitalizing on opportunities in front of the net.

Though Port Washington had more chances towards goal and held the ball for longer, Clearance’s team ultimately won.  However, even though the boys could not walk away from the weekend as the New York State Champions, they did walk away from the season with something even greater: a family that had stood beside them while they made history.

“From the first practice I knew this team was different. Not only in skill level but in work ethic and attitude. We play as a team and win as a team. I knew we had the potential to take this team far into the playoffs and it’s great to see all of our work paying off,” said senior Ryan Nachman.