This was a case of matching ties.
“We are mirror images of each other,” Lawrence coach Patrick Leary said to Glen Cove coach Brian Smith at halftime late Tuesday afternoon.
It was tied then and, on Wesley Vasquez’s finish of a well-placed cross from Jesus Moran with 25:09 left, it wound up a 2-2 draw in a matchup of playoff-bound boys soccer teams in Nassau A-II.
“We have similar styles of play. We both have creative, talented kids,” Leary said. “This was a passionate high school soccer game and with the skill sets of these kids, it was fun to watch.”
The passion showed in the frequency of whistles for aggressive play and the handful of yellow cards for some loud verbal exchanges. But those skill sets produced action that was louder than the words.
“Neither team plays what we call a ‘bang-ball’ style. We both try to get our offensive sets off passing,” Smith said. “Get it in deep and try to beat the corner defender. If not, they’ll be a second wave of attackers.”
Glen Cove (4-2-5), the defending Nassau Class A champion, twice took one-goal leads, but each time league-leader Lawrence (8-1-2) had a ready answer. Big Red center forward Nikolas Vidal scored the first goal on an action-packed sequence. He broke in alone on a fast break, but his left-footer was deftly tipped away by keeper Jason Hernandez at the last instant.
But on the ensuing corner kick by Ze Machaca, Vidal leapt for a header an deflected the ball into the back of the net for his seventh goal with 13:14 left in the first half. “The smallest guy on the team had the best hops,” Smith cracked.
But Nassau County’s biggest scorer had the best response three minutes later. Mauricio Puerto-Quintanilla, also a center forward, scored the equalizer, his 16th goal and 22nd point, on a right-footer in the box off a feed from Alan Martinez.
Puerto-Quintanilla had just returned after a right leg injury earlier in the game. “He’s a dangerous guy who has to be accounted for by the defense,” Leary said.
In the 13th minute of the second half, Glen Cove applied pressure and earned a penalty kick for a foul in the box. Jelson Bonilla converted and the Big Red bench and small but vocal crowd erupted.
But less than two minutes later, the Golden Tornadoes struck back. This time it was Vasquez. “Of course you want a win, but this game will serve us well down the line,” Leary said.
“I’m disappointed we gave up leads,” Smith countered, “but I’m encouraged that we got ahead of a team with such high-caliber players.”
Some ties just go with anything.