South Side entered the Nassau Class A boys’ soccer playoffs on a high note, going 5-1-1 in its last seven Conference A-I games to finish in second place, and kept the momentum going last Saturday under the lights at Skelos Sports Complex with a 3-2 first-round playoff victory over West Hempstead.
The Cyclones, seeded No. 8, got goals from seniors Dane Flaherty, Mark Romanowski and Kyle Morrissey in the first half and held off the pesky ninth-seeded Rams, who got goals from Alex Martinez and Ben Fernandez.
“We moved the ball around really well and created a ton of opportunities,” South Side coach Fred Paul said. “Their keeper had an outstanding game. We probably could’ve had six or seven goals.
“The first [goal] in any playoff game is huge,” he added. “I don’t think our guys felt pressure. They were poised with the ball and had a strong passing game. The main thing we’re trying to clean up moving forward is stopping mistakes that lead to goals against us.”
Flaherty opened the scoring midway through the first half when he deflected a corner kick from sophomore Alessandro Pugliese past West Hempstead goalkeeper Bobby Smith, who was impressive between the pipes with 15 saves. Romanowski made it 2-0 on a penalty kick, and Morrissey increased the advantage after taking a pass from junior Chuck Leone. “We scored three beautiful goals,” Paul said.
The Rams got on the board with seven seconds left in the first half when Martinez converted a corner off the foot of Robert Grogan. “We let down our guard and they capitalized,” Paul said.