Change was anything but scary for Roosevelt’s Juan Gonzalez on Thursday night.
Gonzalez netted the tying and go-ahead goals in his first varsity game at forward for Roosevelt as the Rough Riders completed a 4-2 comeback boys soccer victory at Nassau A-II opponent Roslyn.
“My adrenaline was rushing,” said Gonzalez, who slid over from his traditional midfielder position to forward. “It was just motivation to keep scoring.”
Gonzalez knocked in the go-ahead score with a little over four minutes remaining after receiving a perfect through-ball on the left side of the field from Bryan Jimenez.
“Gonzalez has never played forward in four years of high school soccer,” interim coach Adam Stiles said. “But he was filling in for our captain Sekou Diallo, who got hurt on Tuesday night. And I told him I needed him to score.”
“I knew I had to finish on the final goal for us to get the W,” Gonzalez said. “It had to be done. I couldn’t miss.”
Gonzalez also snuck a goal inside the right post to even the score at 2 with just over 21 minutes remaining.
Jhonathan Guerra’s breakaway goal with 1:18 left sealed it for Roosevelt (3-4-2).
“I couldn’t miss again after missing one earlier in the half,” Guerra said.
With 14:32 remaining and the game still hanging in the balance, Roslyn (2-4-1) nearly took the lead when Ariel Samoohy’s free kick from about 20 yards skimmed off the top of the crossbar.
The Bulldogs entered halftime with a 2-1 advantage following Samoohy’s quick acceleration past a defender and strike to the right of Roosevelt goalkeeper Keller Navarro in the 32nd minute for his second goal.
Samoohy had fired a goal inside the left post less than five minutes earlier to knot the score at 1.
A lengthy chip shot from Ronaldo Rodriguez over Roslyn goalkeeper Josh Bloom, who had seven saves, bounced into the back of the net in the 21st minute to open the scoring for Roosevelt.
“This was huge for us after losing three in a row,” Stiles said. “We knew that this was a must-win game for us to stay alive in the playoff hunt.”
Roosevelt’s Navarro recorded 10 saves, and Wilfredo Perez also played a key role for Roosevelt at striker. Stiles said Perez gives his teammates a sense of security with his presence all over the field.
And no one felt more fearless than Gonzalez.
Asked if he would continue playing forward, Stiles couldn’t help but smile.