A Bright Future for Boys Soccer

Louis Saraceni, Staff Writer

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The defending Nassau County Champion Mepham High School boys varsity soccer team lost a lot over the summer before this school year. After their great season last year, which culminated in Mepham’s first ever boys soccer county championship, the team lost thirteen seniors, and many younger students had to step up. Coaches Zachary Gosse and Steve Fotinos fielded two freshmen, two sophomores, eleven juniors, and only six seniors. These seniors, including captains Gaetano Parisi, Christian Murcia, and Greg Paul had to take leadership roles to try to lead a team full of younger students, many of which had never played varsity high school soccer before, to the playoffs and beyond.
Despite some doubt coming into the season due to the departure of many former players from their championship run, the Mepham Pirates got off to a hot start in their first game of the season against Calhoun. In an intense early-season matchup, where each team wanted to beat their cross-town rival and get off to a good start, Mepham was able to win 2-0. This good start continued, with the Pirates winning two out of their next four games after beating Calhoun. They defeated Sewanhaka and Great Neck South, also tying Herricks and the eventual third-seed MacArthur during that stretch.
Throughout the season, the Pirates worked hard to improve during practices, often working on set pieces such as corner kicks and other situations to learn each others’ playstyles and create more opportunities to score. They also bonded with each other off the field, at pasta dinners, Applebees, or just hanging out before practice. This bond, as well as the leadership from the seniors and coaches, helped the team to have another great season, only losing once to first-seeded Garden City, and ending up with a record of 4-1-5, good for fourth in their conference.
Unfortunately, Mepham wasn’t able to replicate that success in the playoffs. They were the favorite going into their first round matchup against Lynbrook, but a somewhat controversial goal saw the game tied at two going into overtime. Mepham was up 2-1 late in the game, but Lynbrook was awarded a free kick. After the referee did not blow his whistle to signify the kick, Lynbrook scored without the Pirates being aware, which tied the game. Mepham went on to lose in overtime. Despite the call not being the referee’s fault, as he did not have to blow the whistle in that situation, he had to be escorted off the field after the game to avoid the passionate Pirates fans.
Although their season ended earlier than the players and fans would’ve liked, the future looks very bright for Mepham. They will miss their current seniors, including their captains, Gaetano Parisi, who led the team with seven goals; Christian Murcia, who had four goals and four assists; and Greg Paul, who was a defensive leader. However, there will be eleven new seniors looking to fill those roles next year. Their experience and leadership will lead the new team next season, and the Pirates will look to return to the playoffs once again.