By JOSEPH STASZEWSKI
Daniel Castro’s initial reaction was only normal as Bayside star Santiago Moore’s penalty kick nestled into the lower right corner of the net.
“Oh, my God, we were about to lose,” the Francis Lewis senior said. “That was the first feeling I got.”
After the Patriots rallied from three goals down at halftime, the Commodores claimed a one-goal lead in the 72nd minute. Lewis’ 48-game league unbeaten streak was again on life support, but as dramatically as it appeared it would end.
“You can’t give up,” Castro said. “We still had time left.”
And he made good use of it.
Castro, playing with a large cast on his left wrist, scored twice in the span of a minute to give the Patriots a thrilling, 5-4 victory over visiting Bayside in PSAL Queen A East boys’ soccer Sept. 21. Castro, who broke his wrist playing club ball in July, scored three of Lewis’ five second-half goals. The Patriots are now 42-0-7 during the streak, dating back to 2006.
“I’ve never met a young man with so much heart,” Lewis Coach Roger Sarmuksnis said. “To play that injured throughout the game, to never want to come out and always be the one who is in the game and to go that extra step. He brings the team up.”
In the 75th minute, star Danny Bedoya chipped a ball high into the box that Castro emphatically headed into the back of the net. After the restart, the ball was kicked down the middle of the field toward the box. Castro kept charging as there was a miscommunication between Bayside keeper Constantine Pougiouklidis and sweeper Mario Reyes. Castro ended up pushing the ball with his chest past Pougiouklidis’ right shoulder and calmly scored in the 76th minute to give Lewis a 5-4 lead.
“Oh, my God, finally, a relief after going down 3-0,” Castro said.
Things didn’t look good at the break for the Patriots (4-0-0), ranked No. 4 in the city by the New York Post. Kevin Londono, who also added an assist, scored in the 24th minute. Moore ran onto a Babar free kick from 20 yards out, with the Lewis defense frozen thinking he was offsides, for the second goal in the 34th minute and he tallied another with a minute to play before the half to give No. 6 Bayside (2-1-0) a 3-0 lead.
“They scored three, why couldn’t we score three?” Castro said.
Mauricio Cediel had a goal just four minutes into the second half and Castro posted his first off a feed from Ariel Shitrit in the 53rd. Charlie Yang, who had missed quality chances in the first half, tied the score at 3 by beating a sliding Pougiouklidis 10 minutes later.
“I missed many breakaways before,” Yang said. “I know it happens in a game, so I’m not going to give up.”
It was that attitude that kept Lewis from surrendering its prized streak, which Bayside nearly ended last season. Lewis won the teams’ first meeting in 2010 2-1 in overtime and also came from behind in the second showdown.
They meet again Oct. 14, this time at Bayside. Sarmuksnis credited the Commodores for continually pushing his team and helping to provide such dramatic games.
But despite Bayside’s best efforts, the streak continues.
“If anybody is going to beat us, it’s going to be that team,” Castro said. “Thank God, we came out on top.”