Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00
It has been a long hard road, but the Mineola Fireball is now reaping the fruits of success that they truly deserve. With a core of players that come as far back as when they were 7-8-years-old and starting at Division VIII, this eclectic group, comprising players from different towns, has worked extremely hard over the years to achieve this major success.
The team captured the Division I title with a 4-2 win against Farmingdale (2 DJ Feimer, W. Rivera, E. DeLay) on June 14, and the Waldbaums’ Cup by beating VOB Blazers 2-0 (J. DePietto, P. Vilaca) on June 20.
Usually, everyone focuses on goals scored and assists, but this team celebrated shutouts more than goals because they all understood the importance of defense.
Denis Lazo-Cruz and Kory Seibt, an exceptional tandem, led the defense at center-back and stopper respectively, with the solid Matthew Feimer (left) and Gabriel Silva (right) as fullbacks to complement. Jonathan Yan (stopper/midfielder) and Geoffrey Shibahara (fullback) were also key contributors in this defense when called upon. Last, but not least, was Helder Correia, the fiery goalkeeper who kept scoreless streaks of 220 and 170 minutes in the same season, during which he made 14 starts, played 1,120 minutes on the field, made key saves, and always sacrificed his body for the team.
This defensive unit was key to carry the team on a mission. During the season, they allowed nine goals (an average of one goal a game) with four shutouts. But looking closer at the numbers, four of those goals came in one game (due to a depleted defensive unit because of injuries), so their average is even more impressive. During the Waldbaum’s Cup, they never allowed more than one goal a game and kept a fine VOB Blazers team scoreless in the finals.
If the defense was the poster child of efficiency, the midfield was the engine that made this team different and a force to reckon with. Everything starts with recovering the ball and disrupting the other team’s flow or rhythm. Eamon DeLay and captain Stephen Browne accomplished that through endless effort and complete disregard of their bodies. The lateral midfielders/wings of Warner Rivera, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Filipe Lobato and Joseph Depietto provided that great effort in recovering as well as giving depth, skills and speed to the attack on the wings. But what truly made them unique is that they worked very hard on the defensive side of the ball, while being also very effective in transitioning to attack after the ball was recovered. It is there, where the philosophy of playing the ball on the ground, with quick, precise passing made a difference. Captain Fernando Borrego, midfielder, set the pace that represented that philosophy.
Finally, you need to have a potent and skillful offense that can score against top-notch defenders and that is exactly what you have when you combine the skills of Eduardo Martinez, the speed of Pedro Vilaca, the potency of Joseph DePietto and the determination of DJ Feimer. The group contributed 19 goals during the season, with Eduardo Martinez being the top scorer with six.
It would be unfair, not to recognize the great training of Pete Hulse and the coaching of Fernando Borrego. Through their short and long-term planning and impeccable work ethics, they became the architects of this dream.
Congratulations, Mineola Fireball. Right now you are in a class of your own.