A year after making a memorable run to the Nassau Class AA boys’ soccer semifinals, its deepest playoff run in 20 seasons, Long Beach will try to apply that experience and match its postseason success after completing the Conference AA2 campaign with a record of 7-5.
“We’ve been playing well lately,” coach Leo Palacio said after the Marines rolled to a 7-0 victory over visiting East Meadow in Monday’s regular-season finale. “When we’re on, we’re on.”
For the second time in as many games, Long Beach senior forward Dillon Woods proved a headache for the Jets. He scored three goals and added two assists, this after scoring twice and assisting on two other goals in last Friday’s 4-1 win over East Meadow.
Woods enters the playoffs as Long Beach’s leading scorer for a second consecutive year with 14 goals and 7 assists. In addition to his success against East Meadow, he burned Baldwin for 4 goals and 2 assists in two matchups. “He has an acceleration that’s better than anyone I’ve seen at the high school level,” Palacio said of Woods, who expects to play at the next level. “He’s also such a great finisher.”
Junior Keri Saravia has stepped up as the Marines’ secondary threat and also closed the regular season on a high note, scoring twice and assisting once in Monday’s win. He has 5 goals and 6 assists while playing primarily as an outside midfielder. “He’s creative and confident,” Palacio said.
Connor Haag’s game is peaking at the right time, the coach noted, with the junior scoring his first goal of the season last Friday, along with an assist, and setting up two goals on Monday. Junior Bryan Mizhirumbay, who plays opposite Saravia, has chipped in two goals and two assists on the year.
Senior defender Brett Weiner and junior Emerson Vasquez, a defensive middie, both found the back of the net for their firsts in 2018 in Monday’s big win.
Palacio is hoping the offensive momentum continues next Tuesday afternoon when seventh-seeded Long Beach hits the road to face No. 2 Westbury in a quarterfinal playoff matchup. “I told the kids they have a chance to show last year was no fluke and to prove people wrong,” he said. “We’re 100 percent healthy and confident. We’re one of the few teams that has a win over Westbury.
Defensively, senior All-County sweeper Axel Camas has led the way throughout. “He anticipates so well,” Palacio said. “He gets himself in the right spot at the right time.” Senior stopper Robert Cody routinely took on the toughest marking assignment and will continue to do so as long as the season lasts.
Senior goalkeeper Jake Ignatow posted three shutouts during the regular season, including a shared outing Monday with senior Jarrod Pines when they both made three saves on Senior Day. Ignatow also blanked Hicksville and Port Washington in identical 2-0 victories.