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Offense leads Lawrence into playoffs

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Lawrence’s streak of seven consecutive games scoring at least four goals ended with a scoreless tie against visiting Bethpage on Oct. 17, marking the first time in five weeks the Golden Tornadoes didn’t walk off the boys’ soccer pitch with a victory.

However, the point earned was enough to give them a share of the Conference AB-2 title with Mineola. Both teams finished 8-0-2 and project to be seeded third and fourth in the Nassau Class A playoff tournament, which begins this week. Lawrence and Mineola played to a scoreless tie on Sept. 12.

“Conference champs, or co-conference champs, is a great accomplishment and one of a number of goals we set,” said coach Patrick Leary, who also guided the Golden Tornadoes to a conference title in 2018. “We can check that box and move on,” he added. “To come out of the conference unscathed is something to be proud of.”

Leary said Bethpage clogged the defensive zone to keep Lawrence’s explosive offense from continuing its ridiculous pace. “I told the guys it’s what we’re going to see in the playoffs,” he said. “Teams will have numbers behind the ball and we’ll need to find a way to loosen up the defense. I don’t want them overreacting to it. We’re on to a whole new season.”

During their seven-game win streak, the Golden Tornadoes averaged 5.75 goals. In back-to-back games Sept. 24 and Oct. 2, they hung eight and seven on Valley Stream South and Malverne/East Rockaway, respectively. They also found the net six times against Floral Park and Plainedge.

“We’re a dangerous side, but there’s a lot of parity throughout the county,” Leary said. “It takes four games to win it all. We experienced the semis last year and we have the high-end talent it takes to go far. But, we can’t assume anything. There are so many quality, well-coached teams.”

Lawrence boasts two of Nassau’s premier players in senior Mauricio Puerto-Quintanilla and junior Alan Martinez.

Puerto-Quintanilla earned All-State honors as a junior and ranks second in Nassau with 25 goals. He also has six assists. “I think it’s pretty safe to say nobody else has scored 25 goals in a season in school history,” Leary said. “Mauricio is a special player.”

Martinez, meanwhile, wasn’t on the roster until Sept. 18. He was an All-County selection a year ago and the overtime hero in Lawrence’s first-round playoff win over Herricks. However, he originally chose the academy route before returning to the Golden Tornadoes. In seven games, he has eight goals and 11 assists. “He made the decision to come back to play with his friends,” Leary said. “He’s a difference-maker.”

Senior Danny Reyes has continued his strong play in the midfield, and sophomore Gabe Viera (seven goals, five assists) emerged as a consistent weapon. New goalkeeper Angelo Puerto-Quintanilla has thrived behind a defense led by sophomore Frank Echeverria. “Angelo never played goalie in a game before September,” Leary said. “He took a position of concern and turned it into a strength.”