Freeport clings to playoff hopes

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Freeport heads into the home stretch of a roller-coaster boys’ soccer season still positioned for some late fall magic.

After sprinting out to a 3-0 start, the Red Devils went the next four matches without a win and faced adversity in the process after seven players were cut in late September for violating team rules. A smaller Freeport roster has responded to the challenge by posting a 4-0 win against Hempstead on Oct. 4 followed by a 0-0 tie with Oceanside two days later that puts the Red Devils in a three-way tie for second place in Conference AA1 with just two remaining games on the regular-season schedule.

“It’s been a challenging season,” fourth-year Freeport coach Anthony May said. “It’s been an interesting ride.”

The 2018 season began with a statement 2-0 win at defending Class AA champion Uniondale on Sept. 7 that featured goals from Brian Vasquez and Tyree Baskin. Freeport continued the momentum in its second game with a 4-1 home victory over Farmingdale in a rematch of last year’s 4-0 first round playoff loss to the Dalers. The Red Devils were then recognized the fourth-ranked Class AA boys soccer program in New York State after a 2-0 win at Hempstead on Sept. 14.

The hot start was followed by back-to-back one goal losses to Oceanside and Syosset. The team lost some of its key returning players after a 1-1 tie with Massapequa on Sept. 27, but battled hard the next two matches losing 2-1 to Uniondale and 2-0 to Farmingdale.

Junior Sevastion Rivas provided a spark when he switched from defense to forward and struck for all four Freeport goals in the Hempstead victory. Seniors Sebastion Arboleda, Caleb Medina and Kevon Smith have assumed leadership roles on the pitch late in the season along with junior goalie Angel Flores, who took over the starting job in net who has recorded back-to-back shutouts.

“I couldn’t be more satisfied with the guys we have left,” said May, who has guided Freeport to the playoffs three times. “They are sticking together.”

Freeport closes the regular season with games Thursday at Syosset and home Saturday against Massapequa at 10 a.m. The Red Devils can claim a playoff berth by finishing with a .500 or better record or placing in the conference’s top three.

May said despite having a small bench, he feels his team is capable of a deep fall run it can reach the playoff stage because of the experience gained facing a grueling schedule in Nassau County’s top soccer league. The returning players are motivated for another shot at postseason magic after last year’s disappointing quick exit and May feels competing in Nassau’s top soccer league will pay dividends.

“After these last two games it is sky the limit if we can reach the playoffs,” May said. “Our backs are against the wall but I feel good about where we are at.”