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Uniondale makes big strides with Baquendano

Uniondale senior Alvaro Baquendano.

Uniondale senior Alvaro Baquendano. (Credit: Handout)

Uniondale senior captain forward Alvaro Baquendano has come a long way since his freshman season.

“When I was younger, someone would tell me something to improve on with my game and I wouldn’t listen,” Baquendano said. “I’d get mad. Now, I listen to Coach and I know that it makes me look better and it makes the team look better.”

Baquendano, a forward, is referring to Knights boys soccer coach Cohen Nelson, who couldn't be more proud of how hard Baquendano works.

“He tries to make sure he gets his school work done because this means a lot to him,” Nelson said. “This is his last hurrah. His vision is exemplary. That comes with the varsity experience.”

Baquendano's maturity gives the Knights a shot to return to the postseason for a fourth straight year after not making it the previous 15 seasons.

“I think he can become one of the top players in Nassau if he can increase his work rate,” Nelson said. “The best player wants the ball all the time so that he can dictate the tempo and the pace.”

In order to be one of the better players in the county, Baquendano, who Nelson said can play anywhere on the field, dedicated his summer to getting in better shape by running every morning to build stamina and increase his speed.

Baquendano feels it will help him become more effective on the wings.

“I’m comfortable there,” Baquendano said. “I’m more dangerous when I move around. That’s what makes me more dangerous everywhere else.”

Uniondale, which finished 7-7 last season, dropped its season opener to Valley Stream Central, 2-0, on Sept. 10.

“We have a lot of young players just trying to show what they got,” Baquendano said. “The whole team knows each other from outside clubs. We already know what our weakness is.”

The Knights’ weakness is its communication.

“We don’t talk as much on the field,” Baquendano said. “We’re starting to talk more, practice faster. We’re starting practice at 3 p.m. on the dot. We’re taking it seriously.”

Just what Nelson wants to hear from his leader.

Uniondale, which competes in Conference AA1, visits non-league foe East Meadow at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Tags: boys soccer , uniondale , alvaro baquedano , cohen nelson

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