Sewanhaka off to solid start


Josel Castillo certainly is making up for some lost time in a hurry.

After missing his freshman season due to family reasons and being hobbled with an injury in 2022, the Sewanhaka junior forward already has six goals in only five matches.

He is a major reason why the Indians are 3-2-0.

"His IQ, his determination on every play. His speed, his anticipation of plays, his vision of the field," Sewanhaka head coach Chris Kassoff said. "He's got it all. He's got everything except for height."

Castillo is 5-foot-6 and 120 lbs. But size can be quite deceiving.

"When the ball's on his foot, you just know something's going to happen," Kassoff said.

Castillo did not score in the 1-0 season opening win over Carey on Sept. 8. Criss-Angel Velasquez Hernandez tallied in a scramble in front of the net early in the second half.

"Some guys got a little bit of butterflies out of their stomach from playing their first game," Kassoff said. "The rust was definitely shaken off."

Castillo struck for his first brace at Malverne/East Rockaway, which kicked off Sept. 11, but wasn't completed until Sept. 15 due to lightning in the area. The game was halted at 1-1, allowing Sewanhaka to reset itself in a 3-1 victory.

"We weren't disciplined," Kassoff said. "Friday, we had the time to fix what we need to fix and the floodgates kind of opened a little bit for us."

Justin Marca scored once and set up a Castillo tally.

Castillo connected for two goals again in a 3-2 victory at Elmont on Sept. 13, also assisting on sophomore Daniel Falla Ramirez's score.

"That was an interesting game for us," said Kassoff, who benched three regulars due to disciplinary matters. "We put our starters in, and things were definitely much better."

The three-game winning streak ended with a pair of home losses, 2-0 to South Side on Sept. 18 and 4-2 to Roosevelt two days later.

 "South Side always has had a good program," Kassoff said. "We were just undisciplined in the center of the field. We couldn't really generate anything, offensively."

The defeat to Roosevelt was more excruciating. For the third time this young season, Castillo scored twice in a game.

Senior goalkeeper Piero Parravacini (season-high 12 saves) was red carded after arguing that the ball did not cross the line after hitting the crossbar on what was one of Roosevelt's four second-half goals.

 "That changed the trajectory of the game," Kassoff said.

 Sewanhaka will have its work cut out for itself this week with three away games in five days. It visits Garden City, New Hyde Park and Lynbrook.

"I don't think home-field advantage is a big thing for us," Kassoff said. "We try and play our game regardless of where we are. I hate being on a bus but sometimes a lot of team building happens on the bus, especially after a victory. We always look forward to playing hard so we can you enjoy ourselves after, rather than be upset."