Louis Manoussos, the coach of the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs boys soccer team, said there are no short cuts in building a good team. It takes hard work and dedication. There will be setbacks, unquestionably, along the way.
But Manoussos also knows progress when he sees it and, clearly, the Monarchs flashed their promising potential last week. While Mercy beat Wyandanch 2-1 on Oct. 20 for its second win of the season, what was even more impressive to Manoussos was the way his young team battled in a 2-0 loss at Babylon on Friday.
“Babylon is a good team and we played one of our better games,” he said. “Our kids have played better as the season has gone on. There has been a real transformation in Mercy soccer.”
After Babylon (7-8 overall and 6-5 in Suffolk County League VII) had taken a 1-0 lead on Laurynas Stankaitis’ corner kick goal with 6:34 remaining in the first half, the Monarchs came right back down and appeared to tie the score on a goal by Damien Duda. But the referees disallowed the goal, saying that when Bereket Watts passed the ball to Duda, Watts foot stepped on the out of bounds line. Manoussos said that with angle of the late afternoon sun and the orange out of bounds lines, it was difficult to tell clearly whether Watts was in bounds or not.
“We had a great opportunity,” Manoussos said. “We could’ve tied the game. But we’re a young and inexperienced team and we don’t get the lucky bounces or calls. It is all part of the growing pains.”
Babylon added an insurance goal off a corner kick by Padriac Nugent late in the second half to seal the win.
Despite the loss, Manoussos praised the play of Watts, Duda, Louis Leonardo, Matthew Abazis and Michael Shelton. Leonardo was stopped at point blank range by Babylon goalkeeper Noah Lessing (8 saves). Roger Young (10 saves) played brilliantly in goal for Mercy, keeping the Monarchs in the game.
Against Wyandanch (0-10, 0-10), the Monarchs (2-12, 2-9), after a sluggish start, dominated the rest of the game on their home field. The Warriors scored off a free kick in the first half, but Mercy responded with a pair of goals by Watts in the second half to pull out the win.
At halftime, Manoussos reminded his team to stick with the game plan.
“We have worked hard on our conditioning and I knew we had Wyandanch right where we wanted them. They had no stamina and we had another gear. We pressured them into mistakes.”
Watts tied the game 13 minutes into the second half off a through ball from Justin Dasilva. Watts scored from 16 yards out. Watts netted the game winner at the 27 minute mark, when the Warriors tried to clear the ball from in front of their own goal and Watts intercepted the ball and blasted in a rocket of a shot from six yards out.
Young made three saves in the win.
“We started slow, but once we got in rhythm, we slowly took control of the game,” Manoussos said. “We dictated the pace. We’re finally coming of age. We’re understanding what it takes to win. This was a good win. It was very important for us to come from behind and get a win. We really are coming of age.”
Manoussos said his team needs to build on these two impressive performances.
“These kids are working hard and they deserve everything they get,” he said. “The kids are stepping up. We’re going to have a good, solid program in the near future. Next year, we will grow and be even better. I am proud of the way this team is coming along.”