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Nicholas Bernhard scores both goals as Massapequa captures Class AA soccer crown

Massapequa teammates Chris McGrath, left, and Brett Reilly

Massapequa teammates Chris McGrath, left, and Brett Reilly celebrate after a goal in the 37th minute by Nick Bernhard, not pictured, gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead over Syosset in the Nassau County varsity boys soccer Class AA final at Adelphi University. (Nov. 6, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Like a slugger who puts on a show in batting practice, Massapequa forward Nicholas Bernhard was sizzling even before the game began.

"From warmups on, he was on fire," Massapequa coach Keith Stanley said. "He looked amped up. I felt from the beginning that he was ready to have a big game."

Bernhard didn't waste those booming, accurate shots he took in pregame drills. He saved something for the game. Bernhard scored a goal in each half and No. 1 Massapequa made them stand up for a 2-1 victory over No. 7 Syosset Wednesday night to win the Nassau AA boys soccer championship at Adelphi's Motamed Field.

There were very few scoring chances in the first half until Bernhard broke through, beating aggressive goalie Yiannis Kefalas to a loose ball and driving it home inside the left post for a 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, Bernhard again found himself breaking in alone on Kefalas. This time, the Syosset keeper slipped on the turf and Bernhard had an open net and used his left foot for an easy score with 28:19 remaining.

"I was pumped up and I carried that from the warmup into the game," said Bernhard, who has eight goals this season. "I used my speed to get by the defenders both times. I tried to put pressure on the goalie and he finally made a mistake. I was pumped up."

Oddly, his second goal seemed to spark Syosset (10-6-2) more than Massapequa (13-1-2), which will play for the Long Island AA championship on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Mitchel Park. "They say that the hardest score in soccer is 2-0," Stanley said. "We lost a little edge and they really picked it up and played great the rest of the game."

Syosset's Justin Nho kept the ball alive near midfield and Matt Zipkowitz wound up free on the right wing and banged it in off the right post with 11:01 left.

But Massapequa held on to beat the Braves for the third time this season. Syosset had beaten the Chiefs, 1-0, in last year's county final. "Teams always want to beat Massapequa," Bernhard said. "It's good to have a target on your back. It makes you play harder."

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