Just when it seems that the Island Trees U-17 Boys Soccer Team is out of miraculous finishes, they manage to pull off another one. This time, playing out east against a Sachem team that is currently in second place in Division 1, the boys hung on tough to win in a shootout. This win puts the boys in the finals of the Waldbaum's Cup, U-17 Major Division.
The Island Trees United Jr. Rowdies came into the semifinal game after defeating Oceanside and Elwood, both Division 1 teams. The road would continue to get tougher, as they now faced a very well-trained Sachem team. After some decent chances for both teams, the Rowdies struck first. Christian Salvage's long throw-in, an always dangerous weapon, found Mikey Topel who managed to sneak behind the defense. Once again, Tope put himself in the right spot and headed it in for the 1-0 lead.
The boys hung tough and the lead seemed it would last. However, with 15 minutes left, the boys found themselves playing two players down against a very dangerous team. Finally, with less than 3 minutes left, Sachem tied the score up. Normally, with a team playing two men up on such a hot day, it would be a matter of time before the winning goal would be knocked in. But what has given these boys such tremendous success throughout the years has been their ability to never give up under any circumstances and their team bond, which even in the worst adverse conditions, never seems to be broken.
At this point, the only thing Island Trees could hope for would be to force a shootout and hope luck would be on their side. But over 15 minutes seemed like too much time. However, a strong defense led by Peter Cona, Brian Beissel, Billy Fama, Christian Salvage, and Bryan Marksteiner kept the boys in the game and brought it to a shootout. Marksteiner would shoot first for the boys, and he connected. IT found themselves down 2-1 in the shootout with only two shooters left, while the other team still had three to go. However, three incredible saves by keeper Micah Gruber and a Matt Lucia goal brought the game down to the last shooter. It would be Gruber himself, with the shootout tied 2-2, that would be given the chance to put the boys in the finals. After making many unbelievable saves in the game and being responsible for getting to the game to this point, he connected on the shot and gave the boys one of the grittiest and most improbable wins of their lives. This courageous effort puts them in the finals, in which they will play Syosset, the first place team in Division 1, on Saturday, June 12.