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Lawrence remains full of talent

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Lawrence boys’ soccer coach Pat Leary has another collection of skilled, passionate and hard-working group to work with following a conference title and appearance in the Nassau Class A semifinals in 2018.

“It’s been a few years now where these kids love being on the field so much, I’ve got to kick them out of practice,” Leary said. “They all play on outside clubs together and have great chemistry. We’ve got a lot of talent, and the younger kids are bigger and stronger than last year.”

The Golden Tornadoes, who captured the Conference A-V crown with an 8-1-1 mark and knocked off Herricks and Mineola in the playoffs before suffering a season-ending defeat to Garden City in the semis, were one of 11 teams placed in the newly formed A-III. “I still believe we’re in the mix to win it all,” Leary said. “You have to be the best of 39 ‘A’ schools to win a county championship. I just want the kids to go out there and play. I’ll worry about the rest.”

If Lawrence is to take the next step, it must do so without the services of Alan Martinez, an All-County midfielder/forward who chose the academy route for his junior campaign. Last fall, Martinez had 10 goals and seven assists including a dramatic OT goal off a direct kick to beat Herricks, 3-2, in the opening round of playoffs.

The team’s leading scorer, senior striker Mauricio Puerto-Quintanilla, is back to lead the offense. He potted 12 goals and added six assists a year ago and earned All-State honors in the process. “He’s the most dynamic player we’ve ever had and one of the best on Long Island,” Leary said. “He’s a top-notch goal scorer and also unselfish. Everyone knows who he is. He plays at a different speed.”

Holding center-midfielder Danny Cifuentes-Reyes, a senior coming off an All-County season, is the heart and soul of the squad, Leary said. “He’s smart and has a tremendous motor and sneaky good skills,” Leary noted. “He’s tough and physical and raises his level of play in big games.”

Most times, Puerto-Quintanilla and Cifuentes-Reyes, both four-year varsity performers, will be the only two seniors on the field for Lawrence. Sophomores Jesus Moran, and cousins Gabe Viera and Jonathan Viera, project as the starting midfielders. Moran grew considerably during the offeseason and is poised to thrive in a bigger role.

Juniors Aidan Adams and Sender Somoyoa both have varsity experience at forward. In the back, sophomore Frank Echeverria anchors the defense at sweeper. Sophomore Cesar Revolorio is a returning starter, while juniors Ozzie Canales, Jose Garcia and John Escalante will all contribute.

In goal, there’s a new face. Sophomore Angelo Puerto-Quintanilla doesn’t have any experience at the position but is looking for his field talents to translate. “We’ve been in this situation before where we didn’t have a goalie coming down the pike,” Leary said. “We’re rolling with Angelo for now and I feel like we have a while to figure the whole thing out.”