Dominik Dabrowski didn't have to wait to win a championship to proclaim he was going to Disney World.
Dabrowski, a member of the South Huntington Lightning boys soccer team and Patchogue-Medford senior, spent his Christmas Day traveling to Florida to compete in the U17 Disney Cup at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando last year. He said it felt "weird" not to be with his entire family for the holiday, but his team was given the opportunity for which young soccer players aspire.
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"Everybody dreams of winning the Disney tournament," Dabrowski said.
His dreams became a reality on New Year's Eve when the Lightning defeated Bryson Park, a Georgia team ranked No. 12 in the country, 2-1 for the Black Division championship.
"It's a dream to win the Disney tournament because it's one of the best tournaments in the country," Dabrowski said. "There are a lot of college coaches that come out and watch, there's a lot of pressure to perform so it was an amazing experience to win it."
The Lightning won three of their games 2-1 and defeated a Florida team 6-1 to finish a perfect 4-0. Dabrowski, a center-midfielder and centerback defender, was a key part of a defense keeping the teams from Florida, Georgia, Texas and Illinois from finding the back of the net more than once.
Now he's taking what he's learned in club ball into his final high school season. The three-year starter has three goals and an assist this season and is trying to will his senior-laden team to the playoffs in the highly competitive Suffolk County AA League I. Pat-Med coach John Albert called the league "one of the toughest on the east coast" with programs such as Brentwood, Ward Melville and Commack to compete against.
Albert had some equally strong words about his player.
"Your most intelligent players are able to read the game extremely well so they probably know three moves in advance what they have to do when they get the ball," Albert said. "And he's one of those players and he can deliver the ball with ridiculous accuracy with where he wants the ball to go."
Those passing skills helped secure Dabrowski a spot on the Lightning. Dabrowski said he asked a kid on the team if he'd be able to try out, and once the Lightning's coach found out Dabrowski was interested, he was immediately placed on the roster.
The Lightning championship roster, which included Walt Whitman's Michael Lorello, Witman Hernandez, Commack's Anthony Izzo, Ryan Sinnott and St. John the Baptist's Aidan Keenan, make up some of the top talent on Long Island. This means during the fall, they are going up against one another weekly. "We just take the friendship away from the equation," Dabrowski said. "We play hard."
The 6-foot, 175-pound center-midfielder has become a player that "kids literally bounce off him when he controls the ball," according to Albert. Dabrowski wants to play in college, but still isn't sure which school yet.
One thing's for sure. After playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, it's going to be difficult to find a stage that intimidates him. When asked about the crowds and playing in that competitive environment against the top teams in America, Dabrowski sounded rather unfazed.
"I don't really think about it too much," he said. "I just focus on my position on the field to help the team win. I don't really think about anything else. I ignore everything around me."
Whether it's New Year's Eve in Florida or just another Thursday on Long Island, Dabrowski's ready for his next game and moving toward his next goal.