Not only did the Blue Waves win 4-0, but they did it in a way coach Lamine Traore has tried to emphasize all season long — by playing their style ball.
“Most of the teams we play have some really tall players,” Traore said. “So we can’t keep the ball in the air; that’s how we get beat. We need to pass the ball around on the ground.”
There were no breakaway scores on Monday; each goal had an assist. Each goal was orchestrated from one side of the field to the other with steered and accurate passing. It’s a testament of the chemistry that has been built among the Blue Waves.
“We’re all good friends, best friends even,” said Anthony Antunes who scored the opening goal. “Nothing will ever break apart the bond that we have on this team.”
With one game remaining on the schedule though, it’s a feeling of too little too late for the Blue Waves as their playoff hopes were ended last Thursday against Copiague. But it doesn’t take away of what has been accomplished. The Blue Waves face West Islip (2-10) for the final game of the season and have a chance to finish with a record of 6-7-1 — an unspeakable feat for a Riverhead program.
“As the season went by, anyone watching could obviously see that this is one of the best teams Riverhead soccer has ever seen,” Antunes said. “And each one of us truly believes that now.”
“Last year, we didn’t believe that we can put together a season like this.”
Kevin Elejalde, who headed a corner cross into the net for the team’s second goal, feels the exact same way.
“Our communication has been unbelievable,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, I said our chemistry was at fifty percent, now I think it’s at one hundred.”
“If we keep our hearts up and believe in ourselves, there’s no way we shouldn’t win a bunch of games,” Elejalde said.
Demar Mason-Tromain, the team’s only senior who came to Riverhead from Jamaica three years ago, is heart broken to be leaving after this season.
“These younger guys are the future,” Mason-Tromain said. “I saw them turn into the team they are today. They should make the playoffs next year.”
So as the season comes to a close, Coach Traore hopes to keep the team together through the winter, practicing indoors and preparing for the team’s first offseason together. He wants to keep building on what he has and with the help of some parents, who he said have already began fundraising, maybe the team can even participate in a summer league.
Victor Guazambo-Ortiz and Jayson Set scored the other two goals for the Blue Waves.
“We have to finish the season with a win,” Antunes said. “It will be important for our confidence for next year.”
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Michael Hejmej
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