Bare-bones bench lament

TED WADDELL
Posted 10/17/18

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Not to say the end result would have been any different, but with a few more Bulldog butts on the bench it could have been a lot closer, and maybe even a home-team win. On …

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Bare-bones bench lament

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Not to say the end result would have been any different, but with a few more Bulldog butts on the bench it could have been a lot closer, and maybe even a home-team win.

On Wednesday, October 10, the Sullivan West booters played host to the S.S. Seward Spartans in a boys varsity soccer match under mercifully rain-free skies.

A couple of weeks in the past, a six-pack of Dawgs were ruled ineligible for 25 calendar days for what their harried, yet always realistic coach referred to as “infractions” of school rules, a move that most likely diminished the team’s efforts in making it to the sectionals.

But such are the sometime errant ways of youth, as momentary lapses in judgment seem like vapors in the wind.

The standout player of the game was without question Seward’s Tommy Bracken, a 15-year-old sophomore forward, who by the end of the game had posted a hat-trick-plus-one of goals to lead the Spartans to a 6-2 win.

“I think the season is going very well,” he said. “We want to make it to sectionals, and hopefully the States.”

In the first half, Bracken scored a trio of answered goals, two of which were assisted by teammate Nick Campana, to put the Spartans up 3-0 (33:55, 29:17, 12:17).

At the 6:43 mark, the Bulldogs briefly rallied on a goal by Dylan Jungblut-Mercado assisted by Sid South.

Less than a minute later, Seward’s Aiden Vidal effectively erased that goal as he scored unassisted at 5:52.

Shortly thereafter, the Bulldogs’ Ryan Mace beat the visiting keeper on an assist from Will Siegel at 3:33 to close out the opening frame 4-2 in favor of the Spartans.

But as luck would have it, the 11-man home-team squad began to run out of gas as there were only a couple of subs on the bench. That was it, as far as Dawgs posting goals on the scoreboard.

Seward added two more goals in the second half: Matt Stam on a pass from Bracken (30:15); and to close out the game, Bracken scored his fourth goal at 29:58.

Sullivan West (3-5) stats: 2 goals, 8 shots, 1 corner kick. Goalie Efrain Martinez had 15 keeper saves.

Seward (6-7-1) stats: 6 goals, 30 fast & furious shots, 8 corners. Goalie Jake Phillips had 5 saves.

Spartans coach Bill Steele summed up the game with a bit of frustration and a tip of the hat to the opposition.

“My group of kids doesn’t listen very well, so it was tough,” he said. “His kids did a better job in the second half than mine did. Whatever they talked about at halftime, they did it… they just didn’t score.”

Seward’s Matt Stam said of the match, “We played great, but could have put more (goals) in… we had a few mistakes.”

What about the season?

“We started off rough, weren’t playing together, but things are starting to click now.”

Kia Murray is at the helm of the Bulldogs boys varsity soccer team.

“It was an interesting game… I think we started off a little slow… we were up against the ropes, so to speak. Then when we scored those two goals, that was a game changer.”

“We went into the second half feeling confident… we had some good individual performances… the passes got better and more shots on goal.”

Murray said he was “relatively pleased” with his squad's efforts in the final frame. He added that as the game went on, fatigue began to take its toll on the toiling booters, noting, “Unfortunately, we have very few subs…”

“Eighty minutes can be very grueling for the same 11 kids… not having a bench affected us today.”

Tariq Gambari plays right midfielder for Sullivan West.

“If we had more subs, we probably would have done better… we just got winded at the end… even with the loss of six players, we pulled through on a couple of games... We’re holding our own”

One thing about warming the bench is that you get to watch the whole game as it unfolds from one end of the field to the other, in other words a "bench-eye" view of the match.

“We just ran out of steam,” said Sullivan West’s John Muzuruk.

There’s an old adage—well really not all that long in the tooth, as I just made it up—that goes like this, "There’s no substitute for subs," or something to that effect.

For the rest of this story and more photos visit www.riverreporter.com

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