When Ryan Prendergast buried a cross from Harry Ludwig, the goal looked to be another good start for South Side.
But after play resumed at midfield, coach Fred Paul told his players they were down 0-1 with less time remaining than what the clock actually read.
Paul created the alternate universe during a non-league 6-0 win over Wheatley (6-4-2) on Monday to help his team practice a scenario it might face when it enters the boys soccer playoffs.
The Cyclones (7-2-4) opened the year 1-2-1 in Nassau A-II, but find themselves preparing for the postseason after putting together a 6-0-2 record since then.
“We had a tough start, but it really started to come together after those first couple games,” said Prendergast, who had three first-half goals and an assist. “We started to jell a little bit more and I think that’s helped.”
The team displayed its growing confidence as it scored four first-half goals behind Prendergast and Joseph Buglione. That difference was evident to senior Patrick Basile, who has been around to see the adjustments teams can make during the course of a season.
“It’s not like we weren’t trying, we just weren’t playing together in the beginning of the season,” Patrick Basile said. “And now as the results have been showing we’ve been playing harder and more together.”
South Side will finish the regular season against undefeated Glen Cove on Thursday with home field advantage for the playoffs on the line. The chance to work on technique at game pace in a non-league match came at the right time.
Ludwig had two assists, while James Kesicier scored on an assist from Daniel Rosenberger and Brian Limerick followed with a goal assisted by Tyler Wukitsevits.
When the Cyclones had finished their dry run and could focus on Glen Cove and the greater playoff picture, it became clear this team had itself in a position to go into the biggest games playing its best.
“We were all fighting for each other,” Basile said. “It just took time and now we’re getting ready for a big game on Thursday.”