Not only is North Shore boys’ soccer winning but the Sea Cliff/Glen Head team is doing so artistically.
After an 0-2 start, the Vikings have gone 6-0-1 in their last seven contests. In three games in three days last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, North Shore went 2-0-1, beating Island Trees and Clarke and tying powerhouse Manhasset in a non-league game.
Filled with a slew of juniors and sophomores, North Shore’s game has been pleasing to the soccer connoisseur.
“We’re moving the ball around better than I can remember a North Shore team has done,” said coach Mike Bishop, an English teacher in his ninth soccer season. “We’re able to keep ball possession.’’
The Vikings are 6-2-1 heading into a rugged week against Plainedge this Wednesday after press time and a rematch against Locust Valley this Friday. Locust Valley beat North Shore in the season’s second game but the Vikings had a handful of ineligible players.
Last season, North Shore finished third in the conference but lost in the first round to Valley Stream North.
The Vikings have continued to roll despite their top goal scorer, junior striker Lino Leighton, missing the last 2 1/2 games with a high ankle sprain. He may return this week.
“Hopefully we go for a long run this year,’’ Leighton said. “We have the team to do it. We have a bunch of young players - sophomores and juniors. But even if we don’t go far this year, next year we’ll be a very deep team.’’
Leighton has punched in 7 goals and recorded 2 assists in just 5 ½ games. “He’s more of a midfielder but he’s able to take defenders on 1-on-1,’’ Bishop said. “He’s making goals happen from nothing - very individual efforts.’’
What is Leighton’s goal-scoring secret?
“When you get it in the box, don’t overthink it,’’ Leighton said. “Just try to get it on target and some will go in.’’
In his absence, sophomore forward Preston Samtani has stepped up, netting two goals in the last two games, giving him five on the season. Junior Owen Jenson has five points.
The maroon’s current hot streak is equally mental as physical, according to Leighton.
“We’re just focusing in at practice and locking in before games,” Leighton said. “We’re getting the right mindset and not underestimating any opponents.’’
The Vikings have only three senior starters – none on offense. The two senior defenders are Matthrew Cianciulli and Matteo Maffetone with a senior in goal – Henrique Malaco.
Another improving defenseman is junior Lorenzo Recine. “We’re still trying to get the backline tighter,’’ Bishop said. “I like the forwards and midfielders.
The standout midfielders are Pinter Griffin, a team leader, and Henry Cardosa, a sophomore who is a “silky passer,’’ Bishop said.
Griffin, meanwhile, is all over the turf. ”He’s a box-to-box midfielder,’’ Bishop said. “He gets back all the time and breaks up plays. Next second, he’s up on the forward line and making passes. A tough, hard-nosed player.’’
The talent is there. The youth is the only concern. “I’m optimistic but cautiously optimistic,’’ Bishop said. “We’re pretty young. Last year we were young and we’re still young. But we’re playing better and better, shaping into a good side, going in the right direction.’’