By Laura Amato
The motto of the Francis Lewis girls soccer team? Play like a family.
They consider themselves a family—on and off the field—and in Sept. 15’s 6-0 season-opening victory over Bayside, the Patriots proved just how well this family gets along.
“We really work hard together,” junior forward April Cabral said. “We were very excited for this game, a little bit nervous, but we all sat together before and said we were all just going to play as a team. No individual playing. And we’re going to go out and try and play as hard as we can.”
Despite the final score, the Patriots felt like they came out slow in the first half, heading into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Things changed, however, at halftime. Francis Lewis came out in the second half with a renewed focus and, most importantly, a fierce determination to possess the ball.
“We talked about what we should be doing because this was our first game—there were nerves,” coach Eleni Sotiriou said. “We just wanted to motivate them and we pushed through. That’s a great accomplishment for a first game, right off the bat.”
The Patriots barely allowed Bayside to touch the ball in the final 40 minutes of play—a possession tactic the squad has worked on throughout the offseason.
Controlling the pace of play and setting an offensive rhythm is exactly what Francis Lewis is hoping to do throughout the season.
“We’re a passing team. That’s how we win and that’s how we got so far last year,” Sotiriou said. “The girls love doing one-two passes, they love working that to get down the field.”
The possession paid off down the stretch as Francis Lewis dominated the game throughout the second half.
By the final whistle, four different players found the back of the net and three of them added an assist. In other words, the Patriots were nothing short of fluid on offense, working together with ease.
“We really know each other well and we really know each other’s capabilities so we were able to figure out ways to keep the ball,” said sophomore midfielder Melanie Feliz, who chipped in a goal and an assist. “We were really able to hold on to the ball and make sure [Bayside] didn’t have it.”
Of course, a reputation for strong offense is nothing new for Francis Lewis.
The Patriots racked up five or more goals in a game on seven different occasions last year and, during the regular season, allowed just two goals. The trend continued in the squad’s second game of this season as well, a 7-0 victory over the High School for Arts & Business.
“We really practice that,” said Cabral, who racked up a hat trick in the victory. “We’re always focused on just going up towards the goal instead of rushing at it.”
It may have just been their first game, but the Patriots are feeling pretty confident after the lopsided win, anxious to get the rest of the season underway.
Francis Lewis made it to the semifinals of the PSAL playoffs last year—falling to eventual champ Bronx HS Of Science—and, this season, the Patriots are determined to take the next step.
“Our goal is just to get to the finals,” Feliz said. “Last year we got to the semis and unfortunately we lost, but we’re really trying to get to the end this year and we’re pushing ourselves to make it.”