Tags Posts tagged with "Jon Stecker"

Jon Stecker

by -
0 4553

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.”

by -
0 1985

Ward Melville deflated following a Brentwood score that unbalanced a 0-0 stalemate, and with the 2-0 loss on the boys’ soccer team’s home turf Sept. 19, the Patriots slipped under .500, falling to 2-3 in League I.

“I think that we let down a little bit once we were scored on, and that’s something we’re looking to change,” Ward Melville head coach Jon Stecker said. “Having a young team — we want them to grow in those areas. I don’t think they were out of the game, and I think we could’ve come back at 1-0, but at 2-0 I think we gave up a bit.”

He also doesn’t believe his team capitalized on its opportunities.

Anthony Cassano stops a pass a midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Anthony Cassano stops a pass a midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“You don’t get a lot of opportunities in soccer — it’s one of the sports unlike basketball or football,” Stecker said. “[Brentwood] had it a couple of times and they were able to finish, which is pretty indicative of how they play. We definitely need to take advantage more of those opportunities if we’re going to win games.”

Ward Melville sophomore goalkeeper Caleb Rosenthal made three big stops to preserve the clean sheet in the first half, but his team’s offense struggled to take shots.

“It was a rough game,” he said. “We played pretty well, but there was a 10-minute lapse and they put two in on us and that was it.”

He admitted he was nervous coming into the game, but helped hold it down on the defensive side of the ball to maintain the 0-0 score heading into the second half.

“Brentwood is a good team, very competitive — but you have to keep your head straight and stay motivated,” he said. “It’s wet, so you really have to control the through balls, but I think we needed more through balls on the ground to be able to run into them, and more combination play.”

Conor Long sends the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Conor Long sends the ball into play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Rosenthal made a leaping save when he tipped the ball away with less than 25 minutes left to play, but five minutes later, as he came out of the box to make a save, the ball was passed up top to a forward who shot the ball into an empty net.

“I saw the ball go through and I was a little slow to react to it, so I tried to make up the space, but he was able to play it through and he was onside,” Rosenthal said. “So he got lucky there.”

At the 14:54 mark, Brentwood beat out Ward Melville’s defense up top, as the boys backed up, and the opposition beat out Rosenthal with a shot to the left corner for a 2-0 edge.

“It hurts a lot,” said junior forward and outside midfielder Harry Radke, who played outside back for much of the game. “It takes a lot out of you after you’ve put in all that work, but we just have to rebound after that, and we didn’t do that today. We slacked at some points and that hurt us.”

Like Rosenthal, Radke said the team needs to improve its combinations while switching the ball more and communicating as a unit to help the team grow this season.

Senior forward Jared Lee said he agreed that his team collapsed once the first goal went in, but added that the time spent in the Patriots’ zone didn’t help.

“We spent too much energy playing defense,” he said, “and we didn’t have enough energy to get back up the field.”

Being one of the lone senior starters, Lee has his plate full leading his team on the field during gameplay, and standing as an example to show his teammates where the rest of them should strive to be.

Jared Lee avoids a trip as he regains possession of the ball at midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Jared Lee avoids a trip as he regains possession of the ball at midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“He is the best player that I’ve ever had in the last 20 years that I’ve been here,” Stecker said of Lee. “He just conducts himself with 100 percent class all the time, he gives 100 percent, he doesn’t open his mouth; he’s the epitome of a class player. I’d like to do better for him. He just gives us everything he has, and he’s phenomenal.”

Lee battled up top all afternoon, and had several close looks, but Brentwood’s defense double and triple-teamed him to kept him away from the box for most of the game.

“We need to keep the same mentality through the whole game,” Lee said. “And not get let down if we let up a goal.”

The Patriots have made the playoffs nearly every year over the last 20 years, according to Stecker, who hopes to put the team on a new trajectory to get them the postseason experience it so desperately needs.

“We do think [the Patriots are] going to be a much better team in October,” Stecker said. “Due to the fact that we really only have one or two seniors starting — there is a maturity aspect there — but again, everyone steps on the field, everyone has a heart, so they should be giving 100 percent, there’s no excuses.”

by -
0 2112
Brandon Nworjih, left, races for the ball for Ward Melville. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The opening seven minutes was all the Ward Melville boys’ soccer team needed to top visiting William Floyd Monday, 2-0.

“I think we did what we had to do today,” Ward Melville head coach Jon Stecker said. “Coming out sometimes when you score two quick goals, you kind of sit back, which can be dangerous. In this case it wasn’t dangerous, but we were able to finish the game.”

Ward Melville's Joseph Graziosi tangles with a William Floyd opponent in a fight for possession. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Ward Melville’s Joseph Graziosi tangles with a William Floyd opponent in a fight for possession. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Senior midfielder Kyle Honor scored unassisted in the second minute after gaining possession at midfield and beating out defenders all the way to the box, sending his shot from the right side into the far left corner.

At 33:02, senior forward Brandon Nworjih scored the second goal of the game. After gaining possession and pushing the ball between two defenders, he dribbled up to the front of the box and sent a straight shot up the center past the opposing goalkeeper.

“It wasn’t one of our best games, it wasn’t one of our worst game, but we did enough to get through it and get the win,” Stecker said. “The defense played solid. We didn’t come out flat. We came out and we played hard, and we just weathered the storm for the rest of the game.”

With the win, the Patriots improved to 8-4-1, locking in third place in League I.

“We brought it in the first 20 minutes, but then we kind of died down,” junior midfielder Jarred Lee said. “We moved the ball well and connected a lot around the field. The defense was solid today. We just need to bring more intensity and play more together and strong.”

Ward Melville will travel Wednesday to top team Brentwood (13-0-0 league) for the final game of the regular season.

Ward Melville's Gedson Pereira sends the ball across the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Ward Melville’s Gedson Pereira sends the ball across the field. Photo by Desirée Keegan

William Floyd tried desperately to get a goal at the end of the second half after coming out stronger in the last 40 minutes of play, but Ward Melville’s defense knocked away all attempts.

“I thought we played solid defense,” senior defender Zach Flynn said. “I think we’re finally starting to come together as a team and the team chemistry is coming along. That’s been one of our weaknesses in the past and in the beginning of the season.”

Senior goalkeeper Peter Jespersen made five saves to preserve the clean sheet.

“When we truly come together as a unit we are extremely strong, and we are very talented and very skilled,” Stecker said. “When we’re not together as a unit, that’s where I think we struggle a little bit, and I think part of it is definitely maturity. Right now we’re just looking to just go in and play solid against Brentwood, and get ready for the playoffs the following Tuesday.”