Patriots’ Day

Each of the last two seasons, Francis Lewis left the PSAL “A” quarterfinals in tears. Two years ago, the Patriots fell to national power Martin Luther King, Jr., the city champion nine of the previous eleven seasons after leading for over a half. Last November, in a match they dominated from almost start to finish, Lehman and their sensational goalie Sheldon Parkinson sent them home.
There would be no repeat performance Tuesday afternoon. Senior sweeper Mauricio Mora made sure of that. In the eighth minute, the co-captain ripped a shot from 35 yards out past Robeson keeper Julian Jeremiah.
“It’s nice to have a center back that can put it on goal,” Francis Lewis Coach Roger Sarmuksnis said. “He has the skill to do things like that. With him, it’s total skill.”
In the 35th minute, fellow captain Bryant Vargas headed home a cross. The two early goals eliminated any nerves for the Patriots, who entering play saw the Alfred Smith Field, where their season ended the previous season, as “cursed,” Mora said. “It’s a big relief. It feels good to finally overcome this.”
For the first time in the history of the Fresh Meadows school’s soccer program, they are in the “A” semifinals after blanking No. 2 Robeson, 2-0, to take the “S” bracket title. The Patriots will meet Beacon, who topped Bayside, 3-1. The two teams tied in a pre-season scrimmage.
“Fortunately, this year, we pulled it out,” Sarmuksnis said. “Last year we had bad luck. This year we made our own luck.”
An ardent Yankees fan, Sarmuksnis likes to compare his back-to-back-to-back Queens A-East champions to the Bronx Bombers. As has been the case for them the last few years, the best team does not always win. Not that his Patriots (13-0-1) were the best squad in the city the last two falls, but they were worthy of reaching the final four yet did not.
“It’s something that we’ve been working for, not just this season. We’ve been working for it the past four seasons,” he said. “They put in the hard work, they put in the effort. It’s nice to see there’s a little payback.”
Lewis, though, isn’t done yet. When the season began, the Patriots didn’t want to merely advance past the quarterfinals. A city championship was the purpose, a goal that is now just two wins away.
“We’re going to keep working hard,” Mora said. “We’re not stopping until we get there.”

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