Digging a two-goal hole in the first 20 minutes against a Syosset side which allowed just five goals in 14 regular-season matches didn’t bode well for Valley Stream Central in the only Nassau Class AA boys’ soccer outbracket game Oct. 21.
However, the Eagles stayed within striking distance thanks to junior goalkeeper Jonas Mata and pressed to get the equalizer late but ultimately suffered a season-ending 2-1 defeat. Spencer Lieberman scored both goals for the eighth-seeded Braves (6-3-6), who advance to face No. 1 Baldwin in the quarterfinals.
“I told our guys at halftime we all had Jonas to thank for only being down 2-0, because he made two incredible diving saves,” Valley Stream Central coach Billy Miller said. “He kept us close enough and gave us a chance for the comeback. Everyone kept their spirits up and we played so much better in the second half. I felt like we had another goal coming after we got the first, but Syosset hung on.”
The Eagles (4-4-7), one of only five teams to solve Syosset goalkeeper Cole Nevins during the regular season with a goal from junior Fortune Uzo in a 1-1 draw on Sept. 25, were outplayed in the first half of the rematch as Lieberman scored 9:20 into the contest and again 11 minutes later.
“We came out strong in the first five minutes and created a few scoring chances, but then they started to control things,” Miller explained. “They had the wind and we were caught chasing the ball at times. It wasn’t the start we wanted but the kids never stopped working.”