A year ago, Carey reached the Nassau Class A semifinals as the No. 18 seed. The Seahawks finished 10-3-3 after losing to Floral Park — hardly the record expected of a No. 18 seed — but in Nassau A-I, a few too many losses and draws can be the difference between that seed and a much higher one.
So with several players back from last year’s squad, the Seahawks are on a mission to start strongly and sustain dominance to earn a more favorable path to the county championship.
They took their first step toward that goal on Wednesday. Nick Acquafredda scored twice and Carey defeated Jericho, 2-1, at home in a Nassau A-I opener. Opposing coaches widely consider Carey and Jericho as the favorites to win the conference.
“We’re exactly where we want to be right now,” Carey coach Matt Princi said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. I’m very optimistic about where we’re going to be.”
After a scoreless first half, Carey drew a foul near the top-left corner of the box in the 46th minute. The official awarded a free kick rather than a penalty shot, saying the foul occurred just outside the box. Vince Matozzo used his right foot to bend his free kick toward the far post, and Acquafredda leapt above the fray and smacked the ball through with his head.
“I don’t know how I put it in,” Acquafredda said, “but I put it in.”
Eight minutes later, Jericho applied pressure on a counter and came away with the equalizer off Todd Perlman’s foot. Perlman gathered a rebound after Gianclaudio Arboleda (eight saves) batted away Niko Motta’s shot from close-range and tapped it into the net.
“We responded well,” Princi said. “A lot of teams when they drop that goal would have given up.”
Instead, Carey kept attacking, making Jericho’s Tyler McElhinney earn his nine saves. In the 71st minute, Corry Brinken broke free down the right side. He saw Acquafredda cutting toward the middle and fed him a perfect pass, which the senior midfielder ripped into the bottom left corner from the top of the box.
“I know how we play and where we will be on the field so I had an idea,” Brinken said. “Then he called for it, and I just played him the ball on the ground.”
After that, Carey kept applying pressure and did not allow Jericho to have any good looks at the net.
“This is a big game for us,” Acquafredda said. “I’m very happy. Now we can go into the rest of the season knowing we started off right.”