Great Neck South High School’s boys varsity soccer team came back from behind to force a 2-2 tie late into their match with crosstown rivals Great Neck North on Sunday, Sept. 22.
“It’s so much fun to have both sides of the town together,” South High varsity boys soccer head coach Chris McCann said. “This is such a great thing for the community to showcase the level of talent and how we can really progress going forward in the game of soccer.”
North High held the edge on possession early. Even as the match remained scoreless in its early portions, the home side saw the lion’s share of offensive opportunities between the two, but was unable to make its way through South’s solid back line despite keeping the game near the Rebels penalty box in the early going. After losing several chances to the Rebels’ tough defense, junior Blazers center midfielder Isaac Turofsky managed to blast a ball off a corner-kick set piece to put North up 1-0.
That lead would not last for long, however, as the Rebels managed to send their first equalizer of the afternoon into the corner of the Blazers’ net to tie the match at a goal apiece. An injury to Turofsky, who was able to return later in the match, helped South stifle their aggressive rivals until the halfway point.
Headed into the half even with their opponents, McCann wanted to make sure his players adjusted to take advantage of their strengths. The Blazers spent most of the match playing up the middle of the pitch, but the Rebels needed to take advantage of their speedsters on the wings if they expected to pull ahead.
Despite South’s change in tactics, the Blazers were able to strike once more early into the second half to pull ahead 2-1. The play through the middle remained tough and physical, but South kept pressing to create turnovers and initiate a counterattack after they won possession. Slowly, the Rebels offense shifted into high gear, and began to find themselves in the Blazers penalty box more and more. When that final goal came in the 94th minute of the match, the team was elated.
The final result may have been much more lopsided, however, if not for the efforts of sophomore South goalkeeper Saúl Fuentes, who notched several athletic saves to keep his side in the match.
“He played a heck of a game,” McCann said. “He’s just a sophomore, so he’s raw back there, but we’re working with him the best that we can and he’s really been our best player all year. He really stood on his head again for us today.”
The draw was the Rebels’ first of the young season, and improves their record to 0-3-1 so far. McCann hopes the team could use the hard-fought tie as a rallying point heading into the rest of the year.