Francis Lewis heard all about its soccer demise in the preseason, how this would be the year Bayside surpassed it in PSAL Queens A East. The Patriots didn’t fire back, though they heard the chatter.
“It gave us more motivation to show we’re still good and we’re still here,” senior forward Daniel Castro said.
The powerful Patriots, indeed, haven’t gone anywhere. They are still comfortably atop Queens A East with their unbeaten streak now at 54 straight matches (47-0-7) after completing a season sweep of the rival Commodores.
Lewis (9-0-0) rallied from three goals back in the first meeting Sept. 21 and dominated the second, prevailing at Bayside 3-1 Friday. Danny Bedoya, Castro and Mauricio Bediel each scored, but it was Lewis’ play in the back — the Patriots’ supposed weakness — against Bayside’s potent attack that had Coach Roger Sarmuksnis beaming.
“Bayside is a phenomenal team and to be tested by a team like Bayside,” the coach said, “shows the strength of our defense. Our defense has definitely gotten a lot better.”
Luca Damasco has emerged as the Patriots No. 1 goalkeeper, aided by the play of captain Adrian Garcia in front of him. Fullbacks Jonathan Leon, Erik Navarrete, Gaspare Sakko and Spencer Rivera have all split time.
But clearly, Lewis’ strength is in the attacking third, led by the creative Bedoya and a wide array of finishers, which include Castro, Bediel, Charlie Yang and Luigi Puello, among others. Friday’s three-goal output was the lowest total of the regular season; the Patriots put up 10 goals in a victory over Forest Hills and scored five goals in the second half of the comeback against Bayside.
“This is one of the fastest attacks Francis Lewis has had,” Sarmuksnis said. “This is very fast, the speed. We have some unbelievable depth.”
Bayside (7-2-1), meanwhile, never could find its rhythm. Star striker Santiago Moore was slowed by a sprained ankle and for the second straight meeting with Lewis the Commodores’ back line struggled, allowing the Patriots to score less than a minute into each half.
“Just disappointing,” Bayside Coach Joe Corrado said. “It was a bad day not to play your best soccer. You can’t beat a team like Francis Lewis when you’re not playing at your best.”
Sarmuksnis said the Patriots’ end-goal is different this year. Winning a championship remains a priority — along with the division title and reaching the finals — but getting more players into college has become a focus. Sarmuksnis has brought in college coaches, such as Adelphi University’s Carlo Acquista, and has done more himself in terms of contacting colleges.
“I want to get our kids more scholarships,” he said.
Being the last team standing in November, however, is still on the Patriots’ mind. Castro said they want to win the crown for Sarmusknis, who has led Lewis to the finals three of the last four years, losing in penalty kicks to Beacon last season. Lewis has already proven it is still the best in Queens; whether it can hang with Manhattan superpowers Beacon and Martin Luther King Jr., who have combined won the last 11 city championships, is another story.
Sarmuksnis isn’t even sure yet.
“I’m not gonna be able to answer that question until we get there,” he said.
©2011 Community News Group
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