Coming off a season that saw Elmont earn the Conference AA-III boys’ soccer title before being narrowly defeated by Port Washington in the quarterfinal round of the Class AA playoffs, the Spartans figured to be pretty strong in 2013.
However, a United States Soccer federation mandate that prohibits players in its affiliated academies from participating in high school soccer, has made things difficult on the Spartans. Elmont and head coach Pat Corvetti are without a pair of players who figured to be the team leaders.
“It’s a horrendous rule, and one that is really hurting the kids and high school soccer in general,” Corvetti said. “You have students in the building who can’t go out and compete for their high school teams because they play for a premier club team. It’s not right.”
The ruling leaves Elmont without two very talented players, both who earned All-County recognition last season, but also a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Of the 20 players on the roster, 17 are either sophomores or juniors.
After dropping a pair of one-sided affairs, Elmont has bounced back to go 2-0-1 in its last three matches. In the Spartans latest win, junior Abel Garcia scored twice, and sophomore Kevin Benavides added a tally as visiting Elmont knocked off New Hyde Park 3-1. Junior keeper Jonathan Lewis had six saves.
Corvetti won’t let being without a pair of standouts change team goals, but it will change his approach. “I have to do more teaching than I’m used to, and I have to be a little more creative in my approach,” Corvetti said. “We’re doing more team-bonding, and coming up with different ways to motivate the players. We’re going to keep challenging the guys to get better.”
Junior Seaton Cole is a player Corvetti leans heavily. Cole, one of the team’s captains, is in his third season with the varsity. Cole has two goals on the season, including Elmont’s only goal in a 1-1 tie with Great Neck South.
Junior captain Johnathan Davis is a talented and versatile performer. He’s a natural forward, but is playing sweeper to help the team on the defensive end of the field. Sophomore Johan Alfaro, who has a goal and an assist on the season, is a promising young performer.
Corvetti believes the Spartans can be competitive. “Right now, we’re trying to get to a place where we’re a .500 team,” Corvetti said. “It’s tough, but we’re taking on the refuse to lose attitude. Each day brings another opportunity for the kids to get better at something. I think if we continue to improve, we can still be a playoff team.”
Elmont will play Herricks at the Herricks Community Center this Friday at 4:30 p.m.