Mill Neck Soccer Team Plays in Annual ESDAA Tournament
By Larry Manning, Physical Education and Athletic Director
Heading into the 2016 season, the Mill Neck Manor (MNM) soccer team had its sights set on the annual Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association (ESDAA) Soccer Tournament. Mill Neck returned five starters from last year’s team: Keren Guerra, Julio Reyes, Kevin Canales, Noel Rodriguez and Jose Yanes, plus two newcomers: Nataly Osorio and Bianca Llorens. In addition, Mill Neck also had two young players, Bryan Alfaro and Jonathan Velasquez, participating to help prepare them for the future.
Prior to the ESDAA Tournament, the team participated in the 26th annual Friendship Soccer Tournament on Oct. 14-15 at the New York State School for the Deaf in Rome, N.Y. In order to have enough players to participate, Mill Neck combined with Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD). Struggling to find the right balance and chemistry with PSD, we, unfortunately, lost both games. However, the players gained valuable experience during the two games and it helped prepare both MNM and PSD for the ESDAA Tournament.
On Oct. 21-22, Mill Neck, again, combined with PSD for the annual ESDAA Division 2 Soccer Tournament. This year’s tournament was held at Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) and co-hosted by both PSD and RSD. Other schools participating included: Rhode Island, New Jersey, St. Mary’s (Buffalo), Rochester, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The team entered the tournament unsure of how they would fare due to the previous weekend’s results. MNM/PSD opened the tournament against defending champions, Rochester, and proceeded to lose 3 – 0.
The team had an hour to ponder and discuss strategy for the next game against West Virginia School for the Deaf (WVSD). Something must have clicked between the first game and this game as we soundly beat WVSD 10 – 0. Noel had 3 goals, Keren had 2 goals and Julio and Kevin had one goal apiece. Bianca Llorens narrowly scored, but the ball hit the post and bounced harmlessly away from the net. Our bench players had plenty of playing time during this game.
At the end of day one, we were seeded number two in Pool A and were set to play against the number one seed from Pool B, N.J. On Oct. 22, with thoughts of last year’s loss, MNM/PSD came out on fire and jumped out to a 2 – 0 lead thanks to goals from Noel and Keren. N.J. narrowed the lead to 2 – 1, which was the score at half time. MNM/PSD got one back on a beautiful breakaway goal by Keren to take a 3 – 1 lead. N.J. came back less than a minute later to make it a 3 – 2 game. With less than two minutes left in the game, Jose banged one into the upper left corner on a free kick to take a 4 – 2 lead. On the final whistle, players and coaches of both MNM and PSD teams were thrilled to not only win, but to clinch a spot in the championship game.
MNM/PSD had to play Rochester again for the championship. The game was deadlocked at one apiece at halftime. However, the second half was all about Rochester as we could not contain their two-time tournament MVP who scored four goals in the game.
It turned out to be an excellent tournament for the MNM/PSD team, finishing runner-up after coming in fifth place last year. For her efforts and talents, Keren Guerra was named onto the All-Tournament Team.
Great job everyone!!