MacArthur, Island Trees and Plainedge building on past success
The MacArthur, Island Trees and Plainedge boys soccer teams are each coming off strong campaigns in 2021. A year later, the programs are still vying for success on the pitch. For the first time, MacArthur, Island Trees and Plainedge will all compete in the same conference.
Coach Andrew Atkins and the MacArthur Generals have a core of seven returning starters that will lead the group. These players have risen through the program’s ranks together and years of sharing the field is expected to pay dividends this season.
The magnificent seven are forward Cristian Perez, who was the conference’s offensive player of the year last season and notched five game-winning goals in 2021. The defense is anchored by goalkeeper Tyler Behr (Honorable Mention All County), sweeper Tyler Mormando (Honorable Mention All County) and back Giani Nino (All District).
James Eden (All Conference) is also a threat to score any time he touches the ball. Kieran Weber (All Conference) and Joey Mahoney (All District) help control the middle of the field.
The Generals are the two-time defending conference champions. Last season, they allowed just six goals on the year and led Nassau County with 11 shutouts. Jack Longobuocco and Nola Tordy are expected to supplement this year’s already stellar defensive unit.
Atkins credits the programs long-term success to “work ethic, character and their will to win.”
MacArthur was eliminated in the playoffs last year in heartbreaking fashion, losing on penalty kicks to Plainedge. Atkins is hoping to build off that defeat.
“You remind the athletes to remember how they felt after they lost,” said Atkins. “We don’t want to repeat that. Everybody wants to win but not everybody wants to put in the effort and the work required to win.”
So far, the Generals are off to a 4-0-1 start, already notching wins over Jericho, Glen Cove (last year’s county runner-up) and cross-town rival Mepham.
The Island Trees Bulldogs return five starters – John Bohmke, Eddie Browne, John McCullough, Matt Guevara and Ricky Celis. Bohmke, a senior, is a returning All Conference player. Browne is a sophomore goalkeeper and is expected to be one of the best keepers in the county.
Island Trees was 7-5-1 last season.
Seniors Kyle Catehis (midfield) and Shane Fleischer (forward) are first-year players who are expected to make an impact of the Bulldogs. Junior Kevin Dromm is a first-year forward who has the potential to be a scorer.
“After last season, we are hoping the experience of our returning players helps to lead our team early in the season, while the newer players fall in line as the season progresses,” Island Trees coach Ray Due said. “Although we will have some inexperience to start, we’re hoping players catch on fast and we can merge into a close-knit group as we go deeper into the league games.”
Due calls MacArthur a “consistently solid program year-in and year-out.” He also considers Mepham, Plainedge and Jericho tough competition. Thus far, the Bulldogs have dropped conference matches to Plainedge, Wantagh and Mepham.
Plainedge coach Jason Cinelli is hoping to build on last year’s success and playoff win over MacArthur. The Red Devils were 9-4-1 last season and this year have already defeated Seaford, Hewlett and Island Trees.
Plainedge will be led by a pair of underclassmen. Sophomore midfielder Anthony Guilino is hoping to build off a break-out season last year in which he had five goals and six assists. While junior midfielder Michael Iemma, a three-year starter, could very well be the centerpiece of the Red Devils offense. He handed out 11 assists last season, to go along with six goals.
James Rowan is an Anton Media Group contributor.