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SportsHigh SchoolBoys Soccer

Edwin Hernandez scores winning goal for Lawrence

Lawrence's Edwin Hernandez, left, tries to get around

Lawrence's Edwin Hernandez, left, tries to get around Lynbrook's Matias Garcia during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Credit: Jack McCoy

For years, coach Pat Leary said, the Lawrence boys soccer team tried to win games by relying on strong defense.

While defense is still valued, things are different this season.

"We're a creative group and we're looking to outscore our opponents now to win," Leary said. "I'm just trying not to get in the way."

Creativity and good ball movement were keys for host Lawrence in its 2-1 win Wednesday against Lynbrook, a very adept defensive group, in the Conference A-II opener for both.

Edwin Hernandez scored Lawrence's second goal with nine minutes left when he connected from close range off a pretty cross from Jamie Diluzio.

"It was beautiful," Hernandez said. "It was so nice."

Diluzio, a midfielder with an ability to create scoring opportunities, is a big reason why Lawrence is more offensive-minded.

"He has a nonstop motor and understands how to play soccer," Leary said. "That is a classically trained kid with high-end skills. He just doesn't stop."

Lawrence forward Franklin Hernandez (no relation to Edwin) dribbled past three defenders and then creatively improvised by scoring with his left foot from 10 yards for the game's first goal with 30 minutes left.

He played defense last year, but was moved to forward at the start of the season to boost Lawrence's new strength: offense.

"If you let a guy free and you tell him to go ahead and try to score some goals, he'll love it," Leary said. "And he's doing that now for us very well."

Yet for all of Lawrence's ability on offense, it was a key defensive play that might have saved the game.

Dylan O'Brien cut the deficit to 2-1 with 55 seconds left when he scored on a penalty kick. Then things got interesting.

On the ensuing possession, Lynbrook had the ball deep in Lawrence territory, but Chris Monzon made a critical clear with 15 seconds left.

"My heart literally stopped before Chris made that play," Edwin Hernandez said. "I thought they were going to put it in the net and I thought we would have a tie game."

Instead, the result left him feeling a bit more optimistic.

"After this, I feel like we can go undefeated," he said. "This team we played made things tough, but our offense was still able to get it done."

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