By Alex Maleno
The Strykers have been together since fourth grade, and everyone has been playing soccer together throughout intramurals, which began in kindergarten. The end of the Strykers playing on the field is the end of an era. I have so many memories with this team, but one that stands out is when we were making a dream come true in the Long Island Cup in sixth grade, in the second round, playing an away game at Oyster Bay. We were down 2-0 deep into the second half, and things were looking bad. It was the team’s first year playing in this tournament, and we just couldn’t give up. At the eight-minute mark, Logan Hyde put us on the scoreboard, and I cannot explain the rejuvenation and energy that our team experienced in that moment. The game completely shifted in momentum, and we were making a comeback. I remember getting the ball around the center circle, and hearing James Amorosana yell from behind me “Alex, shoot!” I kicked the ball as hard as I could, and it soared over the goalie into the back of the net, tying the game up. With the last minute, Luke crossed the ball across the 18-yard box, and Jake Temares headed the ball into the net, bringing home the win for Manhasset Soccer. That year, we went to the finals, but unfortunately we lost in a heart-breaker 1-0.
That was not the end of the journey. The Strykers continued to grow as a team and as individuals, and although some of us were not the closest friends off the field, and even went to different high schools, we all developed a special bond that could not be found anywhere else. Four years later, in 2016, we made it back to the Long Island Cup finals, representing Manhasset Soccer. It was a great feeling of accomplishment. The first half was awful for us, and we went down 2-0. Marlon Young, our amazing trainer who has been with us since fourth grade, woke us up during half time, and we got our heads in the game for the second half. We looked like a well-oiled machine, making passes all over the field. We scored two goals, both by Jake Temares, which put us back into the game. The first was a beautiful free kick, smashed into the back of the net. The second was a perfect example of a team goal. We got the ball on our half of the field, working it up into the left corner of Glen Cove’s half. It was a string of six or seven passes that ended up at Luke Ferrone in the corner. Luke put the ball between the defender’s legs, and had a perfect cross to Jake Temares, and he headed it into the net to tie the game. We ended the second half tied, so the match went into the first part of two 7-minute halves of overtime, with the first team to score winning the game. The Strykers went into overtime knowing definitively that it was our game to win. Five minutes in, Chris Meyer serves the ball from behind midfield, down the field to Luke making a run, and the goalie comes barreling out of the goal to try to stop it, but the ball bounced right over his head into the goal off the cross from Chris Meyer, winning us the game. I have played this moment over and over in my head a million times.
We were ecstatic, on top of the world, winning what seemed like an impossible goal that we had been chasing for our entire Manhasset Soccer career. Our bench was cleared as everyone ran onto the field and dog-piled on Chris Meyer, even my dad, one of our coaches, Chris Maleno, got in on the dog-pile. Right when the dog-pile got up, Chris Meyer ran over to his grandfather who has been supporting the Strykers ever since we had become a team. I always remember him coming up to me after every game and telling me how great I played. Chris’s grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and it was making it difficult for him to come to the games, but he came out for one of his last games, in a wheelchair nonetheless, to see his grandson win the game for us. It was such a touching moment to see Chris embrace his grandfather, and I’m not going to lie, I did tear up a little myself to see how proud Chris’s grandfather looked at him in that moment.
Looking back over our years of playing soccer together, I don’t think of the Manhasset Strykers as just a soccer team. We are a close-knit family, growing and maturing together as we faced the stress of high school, family drama, and many other obstacles. I am proud to say I have played with this group of boys since the beginning, and will be talking about this experience for the rest of my life.
Special thanks to our coaches Chris Maleno, Levon Kassabian and our trainer Marlon Young who kept it fun and continually stressed the importance of camaraderie.