Senior-led Lawrence built to succeed


There’s a pretty good chance Lawrence boys’ soccer will have a better start this fall than it did in the spring when it lost five of its first six games and earned a tie in the other.

“As happy as we were to play, we didn’t get the results we wanted until late in the season,” coach Pat Leary said.

The Golden Tornadoes made an unexpected run to the Nassau Class A playoffs by winning each of its last four regular-season matches, totaling 14 goals in the process. They scored another five in the first round of the playoffs, but allowed six and fell to Valley Stream Central in a wild affair.

“Last season was only four months ago and it kind of feels like it never stopped,” Leary said. “We have 14 seniors now and I’d like to think we’ll be in the mix for the conference title. That’s one of our goals.”

When it comes to goals, the Golden Tornadoes will rely heavily on the dynamic forward tandem of seniors Gabe Viera and Angelo Puerto-Quintanilla. “At any moment, the ball can travel 40 or 50 yards and we become dangerous with those two guys up top,” Leary said. “We didn’t have them on the field together a whole lot last season. When we did, it made a huge difference.” Viera earned All-County honors and led the team in scoring with five goals and five assists. “Gabe quietly goes about his business and has great vision, smooth skills and leadership qualities,” the coach noted. Puerto-Quintanilla found the back of the net three times in the playoff defeat, while Viera had the other two tallies. The pair is backed by junior Brian Zatorski, a high-energy piece off the bench.

In the midfield, Leary said four-year starter Jona Murcia often flies under the radar but is strong, steady and experienced. He’ll assume a larger role than he did during the spring and operate in the center along with senior Jose Sandoval, a defensive force who’s strong on the ball and in the air. “Jose is the glue in the midfield,” Leary said. The group also includes four others who saw significant minutes in the spring — seniors Jessi Vasquez and Marlon Sanchez, junior Ricardo Moran and sophomore Jonathan Valiente.

Defensively, the Golden Tornadoes welcome back standout Frank Echeverria, who missed his junior campaign with an ankle injury. He’ll serve as the anchor of a back line that includes senior Cesar Revoloria, who does a lot of the dirty work, Leary said, sophomore Emerson Mijano, who saw some minutes on the varsity, and senior Franklin Arriega.

In goal, senior keeper Justin Lewis is showing promise during camp. “He’s inexperienced but continues to get better every day,” Leary said.

Lawrence is part of Conference A-V and will face Academy Charter, Clarke, Friends Academy, Island Trees, North Shore and Seaford twice apiece. A .500 record or better in conference games is needed to qualify for the playoffs.