County title run for underdog Glen Cove


You never know what can happen when the playoffs roll around. As the 11-seed in the Nassau Class A boys’ soccer playoffs, Glen Cove capped off a remarkable season with some stellar postseason play, leading them to a county championship.

It was a familiar road taken by Big Red as it met with Garden City for the second consecutive year in the Class A finals, but this time it was Glen Cove which came out on top Nov. 2 at Mitchel Athletic Complex, 2-0, after losing by one goal in 2021.

The Big Red, which lost to Amityville, 3-2 in Sunday’s Long Island Class A championship game, put together a stellar season with three postseason victories against higher seeds, shutting out those opponents (No. 6 New Hyde Park, No. 2 MacArthur, and top-seeded Garden City). Junior goalkeeper Bryan Hernandez allowed just two goals in four games and averaged 10 saves per match during the Class A playoffs.

“He was extremely important in securing the dangerous balls into the box,” head coach Brian Smith said. “We just tried to have a really good defensive structure.”

That defensive group for Glen Cove provided an extra layer of protection for Hernandez in the Class A postseason. Edin Alvarado and Jordan Flores were big reasons why Glen Cove was able to go on such a fantastic run.

“His (Edin’s) leadership really galvanized the positive attitude of the players on the backline,” Smith said. “He (Jordan) really matured and developed throughout the course of the season. If not for those two, Bryan has a much harder time and probably is forced to make a lot more saves.”

After leading the way offensively in the regular season, Senior Londell Wheeler picked up where he left off and scored in all four Class A postseason matches. Wheeler’s 31 points in the regular season were the most in A East and led him to be named Conference MVP.

“As a leader, I couldn't ask for anything more,” Smith said. “He’s connected to every player on the field. I think he deserves the Nassau County Player of the Year award not just for his play during the regular season, but what he did in the playoffs.”

Similar to last season, Wheeler and sophomore Enry Hernandez led Glen Cove in scoring. Both players tallied 11 goals in regular season play and their play allowed Ethan Graziosi to emerge as another threat registering nine goals and seven assists.

“I would consider them a really dangerous trio,” Smith said. “If you’re gonna lose track of Ethan, then you’re going to have a serious problem.”

As a result, Glen Cove was able to put together a complete team effort over the course of its 2022 season.

“There’s no selfish play, all the kids connected with each other,” Smith said. “We had some incredible team goals. Six guys get their foot on the ball and we just pass around teams and it’s like magic.”