Written by Tom Winters Friday, 09 October 2009 00:00
Eight years ago, a group of committed parents patched together a lower division travel team with players from various communities where a passion for soccer was the common denominator. Bonding over time, year by year the team added a player or two (mainly through attrition) while in the process rising in the ranks from Division 5 to Division 1 and ultimately beyond and out of state. Today, these young men are among the best public and private school soccer players in Nassau County. Formerly known collectively as the Atomics, these teenagers are lighting up the daily box scores in Long Island Newsday. By the end of this season, a fabulous year of playoff intensity and post-season awards will be bestowed upon these talented players.
In 2001, the Atomics were formed via neighborhood friendships within the communities of Roslyn, Albertson and East Williston. Roslyn High School reaped the greatest benefits from this combination as Ben Carus, Lucas Unger, Adam Hoffman, Spencer Schwartz and Stephen Magray became key members of last season’s Class A finalists. Hoffman has already recorded a pair of shutouts, Carus was prominently pictured in Newsday and Unger is a force on the defensive side of the field. Schwartz and Magray figure into the regular Bulldogs rotation. George Spanos followed Hoffman in the Atomics net and is now the starting keeper for the Garden City Trojans with four shutouts on the early season.
Wheatley High School, once again rising to soccer prominence, has also profited from the Atomics lineup. Michael Merlo was pronounced by Coach Steve Cadet in his pre-season preview as a leader for a young but soccer savvy group along with original Atomic teammate and confidant Joseph Mazzola. Each have already contributed to a strong start for the Wildcats. Kieran Lang is an offensive spark plug and Evan Greenberg returns to the pitch after earning his stripes in the Atomics expansion period.
The Carle Place Frogs are driven by two former Atomics in Ricky Jarvis and Chris Barbosa. Both were later entrants to the team but were cogs in the rise up the rankings. Jarvis has three goals in the early going and Barbosa has a pair of assists and a trio of tallies as they look for another Class C advancement. On the North Shore, Albert Grella is a big part of the Glen Cove front line and Alex Goldston has taken his game to St. Dominic High School.
The Catholic School division found a number of former Atomics to boost performance. Chaminade’s Flyers include Nicholas Franzini and Michael Galzerano in their lineup and Kellenberg Memorial’s scoring punch comes from James Sullivan. Each of these players played feature roles during the years between 2002 and 2008 when the team achieved its greatest success.
The biggest name to watch this season is Adam Seiden of the Jericho High School Jayhawks. Seiden is the frontrunner for Conference ABC I Player of the Year and should be recruited heavily at the next level. He is a deadly scorer with tremendous energy and a strong body. Playing in probably the pre-eminent program in Class A, Seiden will be among Nassau’s goal leaders by season’s end and is expected to bring Jericho to the county finals once again. Seiden joined the Atomics in 2003 and complemented the team’s ascension. He engaged in classic battles the past two seasons with another former Atomic, Mineola Mustang TJ Winters, who is pleasantly experiencing his freshman year in college.
Much of the praise goes to the time and effort expended by an array of Atomics coaches. Barry Carus and Jason Schwartz began the journey, Steve Franzini stepped in as a stabilizing force and Mark Magray carried the final baton with all leading the franchise from a recruiting and strategic development perspective. Their advancement of these boys, not only on the soccer field but as fine young men is directly attributable to these volunteers who put in countless hours with little thanks. Seeing the fruits of their labors during the final years of the secondary school lives of their children is a testament to their will and determination. For a team, that at any point, could have crumbled and dissolved like many travel programs in towns all across Long Island – this one persevered. Witnessing the respect, loyalty and sportsmanship that these men followed through the decade is truly astonishing. Best of luck to all as they move on to the next, and most important, non-soccer phase of their lives.