Greg Ancona and two of his Syosset boys soccer teammates were waiting to enter Tuesday’s game against Massapequa. Head coach Brett Waxer and assistant coach Jamie Pedicini delivered one last message to their subs.
"Put your stamp on the game," Waxer later recalled he and Pedicini saying. "Make an impact."
Ancona took those words to heart. He entered the game midway through the first half and later put his imprint on the Nassau Conference AA-I game.
The sophomore forward blocked a clearing attempt by Massapequa, settled the ball, and quickly fired a rocket from 20 yards out inside the far left post in the 33rd minute. Syosset’s "Super Sub" scored the game’s lone goal as Syosset earned a 1-0 home win.
"Our game plan was to apply pressure," said Ancona, who scored his first varsity goal.
Interestingly, after Ancona made the key block, he had to take the shot with his right foot. (Ancona is a left-footed kicker.)
"I was just hoping," Ancona said, "I put it in."
Syosset (1-1-1) appeared to be the more aggressive team throughout most of the hard-fought, physical matchup of two of the top AA Nassau programs. Defending champ Massapequa (5) and Syosset have combined to win (or been co-champs) seven of the last 11 Nassau AA titles.
The two programs met this past spring in a AA semifinal on April 23. (Massapequa came back from a one-goal deficit to earn a 2-1 OT thriller behind two goals from then-sophomore Ryan Leach.)
"Ever since the schedule came out, we had this one circled on our calendar," said talented sophomore center back Sawyer Wayne, who was a steadying presence defensively throughout the game for Syosset. He hit the crossbar on a free kick late in the contest.
"We were ready," he added. "We had better energy, and we wanted this for all our guys from last season."
Justin Cashman was especially active in the first half when he made six of his seven saves for Massapequa (1-1-0). Cole Nevins had two stops for Syosset. Massapequa’s Christian Napolitano moved up top in the second half and had a few good scoring chances. However, Massapequa never found the equalizer.
This season, all 15 Nassau Class AA programs are playing in one conference: Nassau Conference AA-I. Each team faces the other once and will play 14 conference games.
"It’s always a battle between both of us," Waxer said. "Our goal was to get three points [for a win], and we did that."
Probably, because his players bought into Syosset’s unselfish mindset.
"I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the team out," Ancona said.