By Jaren Soloman
The Great Neck North High School Men’s soccer team has been named Co-Nassau County Champions. This is the best Great Neck team in school history in more than 14 years. This year will now hang in the rafters in the Great Neck North High School gym showcasing the amazing grit and determination of this winning and successful team. In addition, each player will sign a ball that will be placed in the trophy case along with a photo of the team.
Facing an extremely skilled and talented team in Garden City High School, Great Neck and Garden City finished in a 2-2 tie. Garden City coming into the Championship game was the number one seed in the entire division and obtained an astounding 13-0 record. Great Neck North was ranked as the 10th seed in the playoffs and have outplayed many higher ranked teams at the comfort of their home fields which include MacArthur High School, South Side High School and Glen Cove High School.
In the seventh minute of the game, Garden City scored, leaving the Great Neck Blazers astonished. The game seemed out of reach for Great Neck when Garden City jumped out to a 2-goal lead before the end of the first half. But in the 69th minute Alex Guela found the back of the net with a stunning goal that brought hope back to the hundreds of people in the crowd. All of a sudden things started to change, momentum started to shift in favor of the Blazers. Great Neck started to dominate possession and had countless opportunities to score. These opportunities showed no results with only seconds left in the game. But this tight pack of teammates that have grown into a family rallied together and fought to give the young star at striker, Ben Avakook a change to tie the game. With great skill and immeasurable beauty, the ball was placed just beyond the opposing goal keepers outstretched arms. The Blazers have tied the game and sent it to overtime. It certainly looked like all the hard work of Head Coach Anton Berzins and Assistant Coach Jordan Barback had paid off.
Eighty minutes of regulation finished in a tie, which brought up two 15-minute overtime periods. First team to score wins it all. The glory of being the County Champion was at the fingertips of both sides. Garden City which had allowed only two goals all season surrendered two in the final 11 minutes of regulation. Great Neck was hoping there would be a third. But at both overtime periods the game ended in a stalemate. Players and coaches all thought it would be decided by penalty kicks but since COVID canceled the State Championships it was decided to award a co-championship trophy to each team.
Matthew Heimowitz continued his stellar goalkeeping leaving the crowd in awe at his astonishing talent. His highlight reel type saves always seem to motivate the team to reach its potential. Dylan Solomon displayed once again his unbeatable dog mentality. Tillie Lamoretti, Eitan Ran and Jack Kariff played exemplary defense, which kept the outstanding attack of Garden City to halt for the majority of the second half. The midfield was strong and moved the ball constantly toward the opposing goal anchored by Isaac Turofsky, Damian Chaffe and Alex Guela.
This might go down as one of the most exciting and enjoyable soccer matches in Great Neck History. This team will be remembered and talked about for many years.
—Jaren Solomon is a 10th grade student at Great Neck North High School. Solomon plays on the JV soccer team, the Varsity Swim team and the
Varsity Golf team.