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East Meadow embraces fresh start

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It took less than 24 hours for the East Meadow boys’ soccer team to put last year’s miserable season in the rearview mirror.

With wins over Baldwin and Clarke last weekend, the Jets already surpassed last season’s win total (1-11) and already have just four less goals than the entire 2017 campaign (10.) And with a young and talented nucleus starting to realize their potential, a return to the playoffs may not be out of the question.

“We’re having a lot more kids on the team that understand how to play the game,” Horrmann said. “We have a lot more talented players [and] a deeper bench that can go out and fill spots when necessary. The team as a unit, they’re becoming a family. Last year we had that, but not as strong as this year.”

East Meadow was deadlocked with rival Baldwin late in the opener last Friday before Eric Velasquez converted a give-and-go passing play with fellow sophomore Darius Lugo with about 10 minutes left for a 1-0 victory. The next morning, Velasquez scored three more times in a 5-2 non-conference win over Clarke.

Velasquez, who also has an assist this year, joined the varsity team late last season and his explosive start came as no surprise to Horrmann.

“He’s a very special player,” he said. “That kid is driven to play and driven to win. Even if he loses in practice, it puts him in a bad mood. That kid has a specific passion for this game.

Samuel Nkrumah had three assists against Clarke and the junior center midfielder has also caught Horrmann’s eye. It also helps that Nkrumah is teammates with Velasquez on an outside club team in East Meadow.

“He is a fantastic player to watch [with] his ball skills, ball movement, field awareness,” he said. “He makes the team better.”

Outside striker John Castillo and fellow junior Matthew Espinosa, a stopper, have the other Jets’ goals this season. Sophomore Alex Giuffre is an improving player at outside midfielder and plays opposite the always-hustling Lugo.

The Jets also boast speedy outside defensive backs in juniors Reuben Seczesny and Alan Gonzalez, who are adept at covering the fastest players the opposition offers.

The senior goalkeeper tandem of Julian Quaresima (seven saves against Baldwin) and Andrew Carbonari (three saves against Clarke) is also a big strength of the team. Quaresima has been the main starter since his freshman year and will continue in that role down the stretch, but Horrmann said that there is no downgrade at the position if Carbonari is pressed into action. The pair also impressed Horrmann by using their time to groom the junior varsity tenders for next season.

The tone for the rest of the season could hinge on a crucial four-game road trip, which began at Port Washington on Wednesday after press time. Just like the first two games, the Jets will face Westbury this Friday evening before a quick turnaround against Mepham at 9:30 the following morning before concluding that stretch at Hicksville on Sept. 22.