Season of rebirth ends for Martin Van Buren – QNS.com

Season of rebirth ends for Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren’s girls soccer season ended Monday afternoon, falling to No. 2 seed Leon Goldstein, 3-2, at Tilden, but one would hardly know from their reaction.
The Vee Bees bathed second-year coach Blayne Gelbman with a water bottle shower they said is becoming a tradition. They left Brooklyn brimming with confidence and optimism.
“Before this year nobody knew who we were; now they do,” Gelbman said. “We made it pretty far.”
They came up short in their plans of a city championship berth, but that was the only negative in a season full of positives. One season after finishing second-to-last, Van Buren won Queens B-V, upset No. 7 Banneker in the playoffs and nearly shocked the Dolphins.
“At the beginning of the year we didn’t know we would make it here, but we played our hearts out, came it 100 percent and fought for everything,” fullback Renel Dennis said.
Van Buren had plenty of reasons to hold their heads high. Despite a bench of only one substitute and operating one player short due to injuries over the final 25 minutes, they erased a two-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes behind goals from Dennis, their sensational junior. When sweeper-turned-keeper Khadene Mitchell mishandled a kick, enabling Vanessa Ramos’s game-winner, their fate was sealed.
Their starting keeper, Lily Chessa, failed off the team the week before the playoffs, and striker Keiasha Yates was lost to academic ineligibility as well. Junior forward Danasia Newman injured her knee early in the season and junior fullback Sharmalee Passley hurt her back. The numbers game caught up to them against Goldstein, who boasted a roster three times Van Buren’s size. As the Vee Bees tugged at their shorts down the stretch, gasping for air, the Dolphins substituted five girls into the lineup every 10 minutes.
“It’s tough, but it’s the reality of the situation,” Gelbman said. “You got lemons, you make lemonade.”
The Vee Bees have bought into that no-excuse mentality. Under Gelbman’s strenuous system and strict practice regimen, they developed into a team, learning one another’s strengths and weaknesses. With just three seniors, none of whom are difference makers on their slim roster, and nine juniors, the Vee Bees expect to improve.
“Next year is going to be different,” Dennis said. “We’re going to be more experienced and the girls are going to come out hard. We’re going to take it all hopefully.”

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