After a run of underwhelming campaigns, Lynbrook will look to get things turned around on the boys’ soccer pitch in 2018. The Owls lost just a handful of starters to graduation from a team that finished with but three victories a year ago.
With a senior-laden roster and a manageable schedule, Lynbrook should be able to compete for a playoff berth. The Owls are battling it out with Floral Park, Valley Stream North, Lawrence, Wantagh, and North Shore in Nassau Conference A5.
Lynbrook’s early-season results have been mixed. The Owls knocked off Locust Valley 5-1 in the opening round of the annual Mineola Mustang Cup tournament before dropping a heartbreaker to host Mineola in the final.
After being humbled by Floral Park, the team bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Seaford last Saturday to even its record at 2-2. Junior Alex Schachinger scored both goals for the Owls.
Josh Berlin, in his 18th season as head coach, thinks the presence of his upperclassmen can go a long way. “We have terrific senior leadership on this team,” Berlin said. “They’re committed to changing the culture of Lynbrook soccer that’s been here for the past four years or so. They understand the importance of working hard, and how critical it is to not get too down when things aren’t going out way. We need to cut down on mistakes and to play a full 80 minutes.” Berlin is assisted by Chris Caramore.
The Owls got a boost when senior keeper Rylan Blondo, one of the county’s top basketball players, opted to play soccer for the first time since the eighth grade. Blondo is extremely athletic and has the desire to improve. He steps in for senior Sal Cimato who is battling an injury. Cimato was the starter as a junior.
Center back Brandon Pekale is the backbone of the defensive unit. The senior captain, who takes all goal kicks for the team, has solid skills, good vision, and serves as the vocal leader.
Junior Ben Krcic is a strong, stifling defender. Krcic will play left back. On the right, the Owls have a good one in sophomore Thomas de Menezes. Senior Lucas Chaparro and junior Greg DeJoseph round out a deep backline.
Senior captain Dan Niessing is a tough, physical center midfielder. Senior Simon Riera is a catalyst who does a good job of setting up teammates. Sophomore Anthony Campos is a workhorse with a knack for winning balls and feeding forward.
Seniors Peter Hristodoulou and Josh Polansky man the outside midfield positions. Sophomores Nico Cuenca and Nayo Dos Santos, and juniors Marco Vinceslao and Sam de Menezes will all play big roles at midfield.
Schachinger should be the team’s go-to scorer, but he’s not alone. A pair of seniors, fleet-footed Kevin Donaghue and John Donaldson, are both capable of finding the back of the net. Seniors Spence Chrein and Erik Zejneli add depth at forward.
The Owls will host North Shore at North Middle School this Friday at 4:30 p.m.