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Griffin Wilson and Kurt Wesch score goals as Manhasset wins, clinches playoff berth

Manhasset's Griffin Wilson chases after a loose ball

Manhasset's Griffin Wilson chases after a loose ball during a Nassau boys' soccer game at Manhasset High School on Thursday, Oct.15, 2015. Manhasset won by a score of 2-0. Credit: James Escher / James Escher

Manhasset is back in the postseason.

After missing out last year, the Indians defeated visiting Hewlett, 2-0, on Thursday to lock up a spot in the Nassau Class A boys soccer playoffs.

Griffin Wilson and Kurt Wesch scored within two minutes of each other near the midway point of the second half.

"It's pretty cool," said senior Matt Gavin, who assisted Wilson's goal. "I've never been to the playoffs before."

The Indians fell to 2-4-2 after a 4-2 loss to Great Neck North on Oct. 5, with three matches remaining. Teams with .500 records or better automatically make the playoffs.

"Two weeks ago, if you were going to tell me we would be in this spot, it would have been tough," coach Mark Giardino said. "The last three games we had to go 2-0-1."

That's exactly what Manhasset (4-4-3) did.

As part of a schoolwide effort to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, the Indians wore pink uniforms for an Oct. 7 match against Bellmore JFK. They played to a scoreless draw. Six days later, they defeated Carey, 2-1, in pink.

In pink again on Thursday, Manhasset scored a pair of second-half goals to clinch a playoff berth.

The effort to raise money and awareness for breast cancer hit close to home, as senior defender Kevin Berger lost his mother, Joanie, to the disease in August.

Teammates said they rallied around Kevin.

"We had so much adversity to overcome as a team," said Jamie Weiss, who made six saves. "It reinforced the main idea of why we play high school sports. It's not to win. It's not to make the playoffs. It's to have fun and appreciate life."

But the Indians had plenty of fun in their quest to clinch.

With 24:42 left, Wilson beat the keeper after corralling Gavin's header on the left side of the box. Wesch scored on a direct kick from about 40 yards and in front of Manhasset's bench 90 seconds later.

After the ball settled into the net, Wesch jumped into his coach's arms to celebrate.

A defensive battle had become a challenging uphill struggle for Hewlett in 90 seconds.

"It was huge," Giardino said. "We've had two 0-0 ties where we felt like we were going to score the whole game, and we just ran out of time."


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