By Mike McAvoy
Alex Navarrete plans on tossing and turning all night. Losing in the quarterfinals for three straight years will keep a coach up.
Dewitt Clinton handed Navarrete and John Adams yet another round-of-eight defeat as they lost 3-2 in penalty kicks after being tied 1-1 after regulation in the PSAL Class A boys’ soccer playoffs on Randall’s Island Sunday afternoon.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Navarrete said. “I may not sleep all night because of this loss.”
Only Rashawn Llewellyn and Fernando Navarro would find the net for the Spartans, as Dewitt Clinton’s goalie Izzy Camejo closed the door. With its PKs knotted at 2-2, the Spartan’s goalie, Henry Gonzalez, surrendered a goal to the Governors Maximillian Ojeda. Then, as his team’s final chance, senior Mamadou Balde could not find the net on Camejo, who saved three of the five shots he faced.
Clinton celebrated, while the Spartans were left watching as they left the field without a bid to the semis once again.
“This was the best team I’ve played for since I’ve been here,” Balde said. “I thought we would finally break through and make it to semis. It’s just a tough way to lose.”
Ronald Castrodavid scored the Spartans’ (12-2-1) lone regulation goal in the first minute of play on a 20-yard strike from the right side. The Governors (14-1-2) tally came from Rajay Miller in the 30th minute.
The loss casts a shadow over a successful season for the Spartans. The team went 10-1-1 in the regular season, winning the Queens-A West League and earning a high seed in the playoffs. It’s only loss came on a forfeit against William C. Bryant, a result of Navarrete receiving a red card. The Spartans were composed of 12 seniors in total, all of which left the field never seeing the semifinals after being so close.
“I told them to be proud of what they did today,” Navarrete said. “It just hurts because of all the seniors I have. The entire starting lineup were seniors.”
The coach doesn’t want to see his players hanging their heads. He commended them for playing ultimately an undefeated season, then fighting through 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes. Navarrete’s playoff falters may haunt his dreams, but the coach who says he only lives in the present, will have some time to ponder.
“I haven’t gotten my chance yet,” Navarrete said. “Maybe next year.”