Since taking over as Freeport boys’ soccer head coach two years ago, Anthony May has set a goal of creating winners on and off the field.
With the goal of maximizing his player’s college potential, May schedules practices starting at 5 p.m. to allow flexibility for after school academic support or attending to homework. May is proud of multiple former players now attending college and in some cases the first in their families to pursue higher education. The third year-head coach has found the later practice fosters increased focus from players knowing they have a head start on their studies before taking the field.
“We wanted to find a good schedule that accommodates everyone,” May said. “Since we have done that, things have really clicked.”
After a rebuilding season in 2016 following the graduation of 16 seniors, May is hopeful for a return to the playoffs this fall. He achieved a postseason berth in his first season on the Freeport sidelines in 2015 in a turnaround from a one-win season the previous year.
“They took their lumps last year and now I feel they are positioned to make the playoffs,” May said. “They have been dedicated and are working hard.”
May is looking to senior captain Richard Bastien for leadership in the Red Devils’ drive toward a playoff berth after scoring three goals as a junior. Bastien tallied one goal in Freeport’s season-opening 3-3 tie with Uniondale ion Sept. 7 and May said he hopes the experienced forward to transform into an All-County player this fall.
Freeport boasts multiple other scoring threats with Bastien including junior midfielders Sabastian Arboleda and Jose Stephen Flores, who registered two goals in the opener against Uniondale. May also sees potential from sophomore Randy Parada, who made strides last season as a central midfielder.
Sophomore defenseman Hector Cartagena anchors the backline after a strong freshman campaign. The defense is backstopped by junior goalie Henry Fernandez, who has produced back-to-back All-Conference seasons since starting as a freshman in May’s first year behind the Freeport bench. Fernandez achieved 15 saves in a 2-2 tie against Uniondale early last season and recorded seven stops in the 2017 season opener.
“He is very talented,” said May of his starting keeper. “He has grown a lot.”
Despite youthful roster last year, Freeport stayed competitive in most games including a 2-1 loss to eventual Class AA semifinalist, Syosset. May emphasized that the progress achieved last fall with improved chemistry from his young field players can set the program up for 2017 and beyond.
“It’s not just about being good one year,” May said. “You want to keep it together for two to three years.”
Freeport will get an early season-test this Thursday with a 4:15 P.M. home match against Massapequa, who was the top-seed in last year’s Class AA playoffs. The Red Devils will then travel to East Meadow next Tuesday before returning home to face neighborhood rival Baldwin on Sept. 25 for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff.