Mark Luglio's free kick did not go as planned, but the senior did not complain about the result in a Nassau A-I boys soccer game Thursday.
"I was trying to go up and over the wall," the Garden City senior captain said.
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He lifted his kick over a wall of Great Neck North defenders in the 15th minute, but the shot did not sail into the upper corner of the net. Instead, it bounced, slowing after hitting the turf, but nonetheless evading the keeper.
Garden City went on to win, 1-0.
"Obviously it didn't work out the way I planned," Luglio said, "but back of the net is back of the net."
The Trojans (5-1-1) withstood a late offensive push by Great Neck North (3-2-2) to stay within a point of first-place South Side, which beat Hewlett, 3-1, Thursday. South Side (5-0-2) defeated Garden City 2-0 on Tuesday.
"This is huge for us," Garden City's Jack Fenty said. "Everybody's confidence is high now after being pretty low after the last game."
The Trojans showed no lack of confidence out of the gate, thwarting every opportunity created by Great Neck North. And Garden City did not allow as favorable of a chance as Luglio's free kick, which followed a handball.
"Mark's confident and he's got an awesome shot," Fenty said.
Sixty-five minutes remained on the clock after Luglio's goal. Little did either team know that would be the only score.
Garden City's Chris Tavernese, with a strong left foot, came close twice -- late in the first half and early in the second.
Great Neck North's Jonathan Monahemi, Carlos Zurita, Nick Garzon, Jesus Alvarenga and Dylan Silverstein all had shots that either sailed just wide or were corralled by Trojans goalkeeper John Mackey, who made five saves.
"They took advantage of an opportunity," Great Neck North coach Kieran Griffin said. "We had a few chances and we didn't."
But none of the Blazers' opportunities was easy, thanks to Garden City's challenging defense.
"Coach has really stressed to stay on a man, and we really have to communicate back there," said Fenty, a defender. "If one guy moves over, we have to pass him off. Everybody on the backline did a great job. Our subs, everybody."
Garden City still has four league matches left, including games against Carey and Wantagh. But the Trojans are excited to be in position to overtake South Side for their first league title since 2009.
"That's been our goal from the start, conference champs, because we haven't done it since '09," Luglio said. "This year we want to get that number-one seed."