The Mineola High School boys varsity soccer team has continued its magical season with another first. The Mustangs earned the first county championship in the history of its soccer program, which was established in 1955.
Since last we visited, Mineola defeated Lawrence 3-2 in the Class-A County semifinals at Hofstra Soccer Stadium. Then, the Mustangs prevailed over soccer power Southside 3-2 in the county title game at Manhasset High School.
In the semifinal match, juniors Michael Marquesand Gustavo Dias proved too much for Lawrence to handle. In the first half, Marques scored two goals, both set up by Dias. Early in the second half, Dias scored on an assist from Marques. That goal put Mineola ahead 3-0. They held on to earn their first berth in the county finals in 34 years.
The county championship match proved to be an endurance contest for both the team and the fans. The game began in a driving rain last Wednesday night.
Southside jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead. But, Mineola found its game and then took it to Southside. Dias scored two first half goals. The first one was on a penalty kick. The second was a thing of beauty. As Dias took control of the ball on the left side, two Southside defenders were closing in. As the rain was pouring down, Dias launched a perfectly aimed shot from about 30 yards away that went between both defenders and eluded the diving grasp of the goaltender. It bounced off the left post for a 2-1 lead.
With 18:01 left in the first half, the lightning and thunder started. The game was suspended and stopped until the next night.
The teams and even more fans returned to Manhasset High School, where Southside tied the game at two. Then, with about 12 minutes left in the game, sophomore Helder Cancelinha took a pass at midfield from Dias and went the length of the field. Cancelinha beat the defender to the outside, cut in and put a low left-footed shot past the goalkeeper from about six yards out for what turned out to be the game winner.
Mineola goaltender Claudio DeMatos was certainly tested in this game. The junior made nine very important saves.
The Mustangs earned a spot in the Long Island Championship game, which was to be played on Sunday, Nov. 13 against Suffolk County champion Shoreham-Wading River at the Hofstra Soccer Stadium.
We'll let you know what happened next time. But, it's already been an amazing run for the Mustangs. The first county championship in the history of the program is certainly worth celebrating.