Long Beach coach Leo Palacio is looking for the Marines to pick up where they left off last spring when they peaked down the stretch and reached the second round of the Nassau Class A boys’ soccer playoffs.
“We went undefeated in our conference but had some trouble in the crossover games,” Palacio said. “We were playing some nice ball going into the playoffs and beat Seaford in the first round. Garden City knocked us out 3-0, but they beat us 6-1 during the regular season so we really showed progress.”
Now in Conference A-1 along with Great Neck South, Great Neck North, Jericho, MacArthur, Mepham and New Hyde Park, the Marines boast the largest senior class Palacio has ever coached. “They’re a few months older and more experienced,” he said. “The conference is very tough, but I told the kids I’ve still got high expectations.”
Palacio said defense is the key to success and Long Beach plenty of proven commodities, including Honorable Mention All-County sweeper Anthony Camas. A senior who is calm under pressure, Camas anticipates well, moves the ball out of the zone and also handles free kicks. “We ask him to do a lot and we need him to stay healthy,” Palacio said.
Other integral pieces of the defense also return. Senior Jaden Bloom, an outside back, will get any one-on-one marking assignment when the situation calls, Palacio noted. “Jaden is great one-on-one and also has speed and reads the game well,” the coach explained. Junior stopper Michael Contreras is a strong on-ball tackler and covers a lot of ground in the back, cleaning up any mistakes that arise. Senior Daniel Cipra’s left-footed crossing passes rank among the best of anyone on the team, Palacio said, and has excellent field awareness and the ability to contribute in the midfield.