“If you had told me back in August that a team with five wins would be in the playoffs against a high caliber team like this I would have thought you were crazy,” West Hempstead varsity soccer coach Chris Van Kovics said Friday afternoon on the backfield at .
West Hempstead had failed to make the playoffs in the previous 6 years before yesterday’s game against Mineola, a 5-1 victory.
“Our main guys, (Nick) Branker, (Kevin) Macario and (Marco) Flores really stepped it up for us this season to get us in this position,” Kovics said.
That position turned out to be up by one five minutes into the first half of the Class A playoff game as an assisted shot by junior forward Giancarlo Proietti allowed senior Rolando Martinez to put the Rams ahead.
It ended up freshman Danny Pardo who evened the score, nailing a shot past goalkeeper Luis Palomo, where it would remain for the rest of the half.
The Mustangs came out a different team in the second half.
“We could have easily been down two to one going into halftime,” Pereira said. “We picked up the pace in the second half and they were not able to hang with us. We have eight or nine guys going full force all game and they were not use to that pace.”
The Mustangs were more aggressive on offense, eventually wearing the West Hempstead defense down, scoring four goals en route to a 5-1 victory.
In Pereira’s eyes it was the cold fact that their season could end that drove his players.
“They realized that their final season at Mineola could end today here on their home field; that gave them the motivation to come out and finish strong,” he said.
“We played really hard in the first half but they wore us down eventually,” Van Kovics said. “Mineola just had bigger, stronger and better players in the end.”
Mineola senior Forward Paul Sandoval finished the day with two goals while team captain Christian Lird added one.
The fifth-seeded Mustangs will face No. 4 Roslyn in a quarterfinal matchup next Tuesday at Roslyn High School at 2 p.m.1 2 F West Hempstead 1 0 1 Mineola 1 4 5
Mineola Scoring Summary
Player Position Goals Assists Paul Sandoval
2 1 Daniel Pardo 2 0 Christian Lird
1 1 Caique Mello
Goalie Saves Kevin Mulder 3