Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer.
For seniors Delwin Hernandez and Alex Cota, Glen Cove’s boys soccer team’s 8-0 start has been fueled by newfound unity that was missing during last year’s playoff run, which was cut short in the Class A quarterfinals.
“It really isn’t (an issue) anymore,” Hernandez said. “We got past it.”
For coach Brian Smith, it’s partially the selflessness of this team but also the memory of losing to eventual county champion Floral Park.
“Sometimes you don’t learn how to win until you experience losing,” Smith said.
But regardless of the theory, the reality is the Big Red is rolling. Tuesday’s 7-0 Nassau A-II victory over visiting Valley Stream North was just the latest declaration of dominance.
Hernandez and Bryan Villanueva each scored twice, and Cota, Bryan Arita and Niko Vidal also got on the board.
Valley Stream North’s firepower was diminished by three separate ankle injuries, including one that sidelined Jean Gardy Derineau (seven goals, tied 4th in Nassau before Tuesday’s games) in the first 10 minutes.
Smart, selfless play helped the Big Red set the tone in the first minute. Glen Cove took the opening kick downfield, sending the ball from foot to foot. Eventually it got to Michael Morra on the left side of the box. He saw Hernandez open at the top of the box and fed a perfect pass to the dangerous left foot, and Hernandez (seven goals, three assists in 2016) buried a shot into the bottom right corner just 21 seconds into the match.
“A lot of times teams think they need to man-mark him specifically and when you man mark him and he still scores a goal, sometimes it can take the air out of a team 21 seconds into the game,” Smith said. “That goal doesn’t happen unless we pass the way we passed up the field.”
The Big Red led, 3-0, at halftime, but Smith felt confident enough to unload his bench.
Arita scored his first goal of the season. Vidal, a freshman, scored his first goal in front of the home crowd, igniting loud cheers from the bleachers. “Yeah, I heard them,” he said, smiling. And Villanueva added his two goals in the final five minutes.
All the while, the entire bench — filled with starters — was restless with excitement for the reserves.
“We’re just so close knit, it’s amazing,” Cota said. “It works out perfectly.”