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Friends worked as one and got a championship

Friends Academy's Jonathan Nierenberg, left, celebrates his game-winning

Friends Academy's Jonathan Nierenberg, left, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammate Harry Nicolas. (Nov. 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

Right from the get-go, Andrew Stingi liked what he saw from the Friends Academy boys soccer team.

"We honestly started working as a team, rather than an individual, right from the start," said Stingi, a co-captain and outside midfielder.

It was that all-for-one and one-for-all mentality that enabled Friends (15-1-2) to capture its third state championship, beating Lansing, 1-0, in the Class C final Nov. 17 at Middletown High School.

The shutout was Brandon Rosenbaum's ninth in a season in which he allowed six goals.

Jon Nierenberg, Patrick Moodhe and Max Heffron were integral pieces to the puzzle who were on board with Stingi, Rosenbaum and 31st-year coach Marshall Lindner in bringing the team together.

"Whenever they were together as a group, whether it be before the game, or during practice, I kept hearing these words: 'Play for each other,' " Lindner said.

Friends, which got back to the Long Island title game after losing to Port Jefferson last season, did it by getting off to good starts. It scored 37 of its 54 goals in the first half. In reaching the state final, the Quakers scored three first-half goals in its 3-0 semifinal win over Lake George.

"It's really amazing," said Heffron, who played at stopper and in the midfield. "Scoring early in games was a huge key. The mentality of coming out so strong, focusing, eating right before games and talking on the bus about what players to watch out for made it a goal of ours to work hard and finish strong. We did that. It was great."

For Heffron, there was more motivation to win a state title in his junior season after seeing his brother, former Quakers center-midfielder Colin Heffron (Dartmouth), win a state title in 2009 and 2010.

Nierenberg and Harrison Seideman were also members of that 2010 team that got a chance to celebrate again. Nierenberg scored the winning goal in the 2013 state championship game. Seideman (12 goals, five assists) and Liam Bardong (11 goals, five assists) were key point leaders for the Quakers.

"I feel when everyone plays their role, that's when we're the most successful, and that's what we did in the playoffs," said Nierenberg, who finished with a team-leading 15 goals. "My freshman year, we had three great leaders [Colin Heffron, Matt Slotnick and Chris Campbell] that really set the tone for that year. They showed me and the team how to be good leaders and what it's like to win."

Moodhe followed suit. His throw-in led to Nierenberg's winning goal in the 60th minute of the state title game.

"It's a great memory for me," said Moodhe, who led the Quakers with seven assists.

Quakers assistant coach Dave Barth said he will never forget Moodhe's throw-in and the entire ride.

"We had that long break right before the Southold game and within those days we refocused," Barth said. "You take away the good things and the negative things heading into the second season. That's the mentality we had. They were really focused on channeling that into wins."

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