Lawrence boys’ soccer coach Pat Leary keeps reminding his players the season is still early, but at the same time he’s “optimistic and very excited” about a dynamic start.
A year after falling in overtime against Mineola in a Nassau Class A first-round playoff game, the Golden Tornadoes (6-4-2 in Conference A-II in 2016) are more experienced, determined and proving capable of scoring goals in bunches. They’ve found the net 23 times in the process of winning five straight conference games out of the gate.
“It’s a technically skilled and unselfish group,” Leary said. “The kids from last year’s team came back hungrier and the pieces we’ve added have fit right in. They’ve exceeded my expectations so far and I’m hoping it continues. They understand the season is a marathon and not a sprint.”
Lawrence returned a handful of award winners, including senior All-County selection Wesley Vasquez. Whether at center-midfield, stopper or sweeper, he can be a game-changer. “He’s tough to play against and has an awesome skill set,” Leary said of Vasquez, who’s four goals and four assists have mostly come off counter attacks and set plays. “He’s all over the field and rarely comes off.”
At forward, the foundation for fireworks was in place with a pair of returning All-Conference honorees. Senior Darwin Reyes, a captain along with Vasquez, is flying under the radar in the early going, Leary said, but has excellent vision and looms dangerous around the cage. He has a pair of goals and two helpers. Meanwhile, sophomore Mauricio Puerto-Quintanilla led Nassau County in goals through last Friday’s 4-1 win over Wantagh with 12.
“Mauricio’s stats speak for themselves,” Leary said of Puerto-Quintanilla, who scored three goals in the Sept. 6 conference opener at Hewlett and followed with four tallies two days later against Floral Park. “He’s fast and has a knack for putting the ball in the net,” he added. “Teams may start to defend him differently, but that’s just going to open things for everyone else. As long as we’re putting up Ws, nobody on this team cares who scores.”
A trio of freshmen have made an immediate impact, Leary noted, and none more than center-midfielder Alan Martinez. He’s contributed to the offensive production with six points, including a pair of goals, and brings a soccer IQ that’s off the charts. “He quietly goes about his business and has a ton of upside,” Leary said. “He’s a creative distributor who puts the ball where it needs to be.”
Freshmen Justin Aviles-Perez (2 goals) and Jesus Moran are getting time at forward and in the midfield. Senior David Barrientos has made a smooth transition to outside midfield where he starts opposite Danny Cifuentes-Reyes.
In the back, senior fullback Derek Canales is a workhorse while classmates Christian Jeiyesimi and Bradley Alvarado bring experience and reliability. Junior newcomer Jordy Reyes is off to a big start at fullback, and junior Joe Dvir and senior Ethan Breban top the depth chart at goalkeeper.