Rebuilding year after losses to graduation
There was a change this year in Class AA boys’ soccer. The two-division set-up has been changed to one 13-team division.
Westbury coach Chris Valentini said it doesn’t make a difference.
“It’s the same challenge, whether you play the other team once or twice,” he pointed out.
Valentini said that the Green Dragons lost five or six starters from a team that went 9-3-1 a year ago and gained the No. 2 seeding in the Class AA playoffs. Westbury was upended by No. 7 Long Beach 3-2 in the AA quarterfinal. Among the losses was Erick Turcios Bonilla, who earned a scholarship to LIU Post.
“Our expectations are to be competitive,” Valentini said after a 4-2 Conference AA-1 win over visiting Freeport on Sept. 11. “We are young and we have a lot of learning to do, mentally, physically, tactically and technically.”
Valentini named seniors Kevens Leger and Andy Plasencia and sophomore Brian Rivas as returning players, and sophomores Kevin Cruz and Edison Arias as “up-and-comers.”
Goalie Kenny Chamo, the coach added, “was second in Nassau County last year in clean sheets,” using the soccer terms for shutouts. Chamo had eight in 2018, and against Freeport came up with a couple of acrobatic saves to keep the Red Devils in check.
Valentini also cited soph Ali Mata-Ruiz, whose highlight-worthy free kick from the top of the penalty arc (about 22 yards) threaded the wall and tied the game after Freeport had taken an early 1-0 lead. Mata-Ruiz added an assist, while Arias, Leger and Cruz also scored.
“They’re all young,” Valentini summed up his roster. “Most of them are 10th graders. So there’s a lot of work to do, and there’s going to be a lot of physical maturity that we need to go through.”