Gino Scardino realized early this season that the more he racked up goals, the more attention he would receive from opposing defenses.
Scardino led Nassau County in goals through September with eight, yet as defenses stiffened against him, he finished the season with 12. After scoring four goals in a win over Valley Stream North on Sept. 11, the senior forward was held scoreless six days later in a loss to South Side.
"I knew I was being man-marked so the key had to be getting other people opportunities," Scardino said. "Every time I went out, the defender marking me went out and every time I came in, the defender came in. I just had to stick through it. I knew the tighter defending was going to happen eventually."
Scardino was slowed down, but he wasn't stopped.
In the second of two senior all-star games played at St. Joseph's College Saturday afternoon, Scardino scored the lone goal for the Nassau team in a 1-0 win over the Suffolk squad.
Scardino, who found the back of the net from close-range midway through the first half, was named the Nassau Most Valuable Player.
"It feels so good," Scardino said. "At Carey, we didn't get the chance to play in the playoffs so for me, this had a playoff-like feel to it. There was some intensity with skilled players on both sides so to be the one who scored is just a great feeling."
Cody Cao, a midfielder for Half Hollow Hills West, earned the MVP award for Suffolk in the match. Hills West coach Doug Gannon lauded Cao throughout the season for his "brilliant knowledge of the game, awareness on the field and unselfish play." All of it was evident Saturday as Cao was the catalyst in several pretty plays.
If not for the stellar play of Huntington goalkeeper Lee Reiver, who made five saves while playing only in the second half, Scardino might have cashed in twice. With about 15 minutes left in the match, Reiver made a nice save while ranging to his right to thwart an attempt from Scardino.
Sewanhaka's Dominick Roberge patrolled the defense, won several balls in the air and distributed well throughout the match, and especially late, to make sure Scardino's goal held up.
"To play against a great Suffolk team with a great Nassau team was incredible," Scardino said. "No better way to end a high school career."