With the game-winning goal, Ward Melville’s Justin Seedorf got a promotion.
“Welcome to the starting lineup,” Ward Melville head coach Jon Stecker said to his sophomore center midfielder while he grabbed his shoulders as the two walked off the soccer field.
Seedorf helped the Patriots make light of what seemed to be a dark situation during the team’s first win of the season, a 2-0 blanking at home of Sachem East Sept. 12.
“We knew this was a must-win game and we had to give 200 percent to get this win,” Seedorf said. “We stayed in it, we didn’t give up.”
Through an unusually high volume of foul calls, changed calls and overruled whistles from the game’s two referees — which included two disallowed Ward Melville goals — the Patriots focus never wavered.
“They played very hard, they kept their heads in the game and I’m very happy with what they did today,” Stecker said. “The way they kept their composure — they took a step in the right direction and showed me they have the maturity it’s going to take in League I to get to the playoffs and get to the next level.”
Despite a 0-0 halftime score, the two teams came out firing. The first half even saw Ward Melville senior Justin Cahill fire at the net, knocking in a wayward kick with his head, but despite a defender being on the post, an offside call negated the goal.
Sachem East seemed to be running out of energy in the second half, and Seedorf sought to take advantage of it. With 19:21 left to play, he raced ahead of the mid-fielder and got his foot on the ball, knocking it between two of his opponent’s toughest defenders and into the goal.
“I saw there was a lot of space up in the top of the box so I made my run, and as I did that the ball came back to me and I finished it near post,” he said. “To see that ball hit the back of the net felt amazing.”
Ward Melville pressed on, and later senior Anthony Guglielmo had a goal removed from the scoresheet, also on an offside call.
“Teams in the past might have let what was going on today affect the outcome of this game,” Stecker said. “I think we needed this game more importantly for our own psyche than even our record. They played very hard despite some goals that were taken away.”
At the 1:44 mark, senior left wing Harry Radke got his body on a send-in from classmate Nick Honor for an insurance goal.
“I knew with Nick Honor that we were going to go front post,” Radke said. “I made the run at the right time and dove as far as I could.”
He said it was sweet to help seal the deal.
“I’ve played against a few of these kids when I was younger and it feels good to score against them,” he said. “We were resilient. Even when we got bad calls and lost two goals we pulled together and pushed through as a team.”