Close-knit boys team sensed something special was happening at Massapequa
Related mediaMassapequa wins Class AA state final Massapequa reaches state 'AA' final Chiefs claim Long Island 'AA' titleMas High school boys soccer videos Boys soccer champions High school boys soccer blog posts
When his number was called, Brett Reilly took the field with the same can-do attitude as his teammates.
That spirit embodies Massapequa as it captured its first boys soccer state championship.
"There's no better feeling than saying you're playing for the best team in the state," said Reilly, who played at times on defense, at center-midfield, and at forward. "It's great that you can have as much of an effect on the game as possible."
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Keith Stanley talked about Reilly's presence first and foremost because the coach believes that everyone on the Chiefs was an integral part of the team, no matter how much each player played.
The 10th-year coach still can't get over his team's success. Stanley and his cousin, Chiefs assistant coach Ken Wing, watched the game tape only days after Massapequa's 1-0 win over Fairport in the state championship on Nov. 17 at Middletown High School.
"It's sinking in," Stanley said. "We've been enjoying it all over again. Can't get enough of it. We're able to see it in still pictures and it shows us the look on the opponents' faces. It really was incredible. Everything the guys did had value."
Who better to talk to about the Chiefs' remarkable season than John Romano? The co-captain bolstered a defensive unit that allowed only six goals all season, helping goalkeeper Dan Vitiello to record 12 shutouts.
Massapequa (16-1-2) won the Conference AA title (9-0-1), giving up only one goal.
"Before every game, me and the defenders and Danny all came together and we said, 'No matter what, this game depends on us,''' Romano said. "We had that mind-set of nobody is going to score on us. We never had any worry about anybody getting through us."
Nobody got through the Chiefs for a goal at states, and the only team to defeat Massapequa this season was Mamaroneck, 1-0, in non-league on Oct. 5.
"From the defense's standpoint, we had each other's back all season," Kevin Mazol said. "We just knew how well we played together. We knew the potential of each player that they were going to give it all they had with all their great skill."
Mazol could sense something special was happening when the Chiefs scored four first-half goals en route to their 5-1 win over Smithtown West in the Long Island championship.
"At that point, we realized we could make history," Mazol said. We're all friends and that's important. If somebody makes a mistake, we all go over to that person and say don't worry about it. If someone was down, pick them up and get them right back in it."
Championship words from a championship player representing a championship team.
"This was one of my better teams," Stanley said. "When we ran into a problem, we got better. When things went against us, we got stronger. We've got blue-collar kids who will outwork you. I'm so proud of them."