It was so perfect it looked as if it had been rehearsed hundreds of times.
Sal Inglima sent a corner kick on the ground toward the top of the box. Richie Rambarran came across, faked as if he would one-touch a shot but let the ball pass. Before the defense could recover, C.J. Emmerich followed Rambarran and ripped a shot into the net.
That 68th-minute goal gave Syosset a 1-0 win over Massapequa in the Nassau AA-I opener Tuesday at Burns Park.
“It almost looked like we worked on that,” Syosset coach Brett Waxer said, “but I can’t take credit for it.”
Instead, he said, the credit goes first to Inglima, for recognizing the windy conditions had altered the accuracy of almost every corner kick through the first 67 minutes. Then to Rambarran, for assessing that his shot likely would be deflected or stopped altogether and choosing to let the ball through. And, of course, to Emmerich, who finally got his first goal after missing a few close chances early this season.
“It was a huge energy spike,” Emmerich said. “Our team then just played a lot harder and we kept putting pressure on their half because they couldn’t get out of the wind.”
Massapequa did not put a shot on goal after Syosset scored, but the Chiefs had several opportunities beforehand. Griffin Halpern and Max Verch made a pair of last-second clears, and Matt Sobel had seven saves, including a diving stop against Brendan Nichtern in the 59th minute.
Near the midway point of the first half, Sobel couldn’t grasp a wet, long ball into the box. Halpern sprinted toward the goal and dove to head the ball out of bounds just before it crossed into the net.
“Listen, it happens,” Halpern said. “The goalie mishandled it, and I was there to clean it up.”
Said Waxer: “I think that set a tone to our guys about what kind of game it was going to be.”
And the win set the tone for what the Braves hope to accomplish this season: unseat the Chiefs as conference champions and make a run at a county title.
“We do know, though, that this is just three points (in the standings), nothing more than that,” Waxer said. “It’s early in the season. They’ll make adjustments. We’ll make adjustments, and we’ll see how the season goes.”
But for now, in conference play, the Braves are perfect.