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MLK’s Faye prepares soccer journey

Malick Faye came to Martin Luther King Jr. HS three years ago unsure of himself in a new land. He leaves the Manhattan power supremely confident in his abilities, a two-time city champion and the recipient of the PSAL Wingate Award in boys’ soccer, given to the top senior in each sport.

“I feel real fortunate,” he said, “to be here. My hard work paid off in the end. It’s another accomplishment.”

Faye, a Bronx resident, learned English, finished with an 82 average and under the guidance of MLK coach Martin Jacobson and his assistant, Mickey Cohen, became the city’s preeminent force in net. Each of the last two seasons, it was his stellar play that ignited the Knights to city titles No. 10 and 11. He was brilliant in penalty kicks and also scored a goal by coming out of the pipes.

“I asked who wants to kick and he said I do,” Jacobson said. “He never ceased to amaze me.”

Said Francis Lewis coach Roger Sarmuksnis, after losing to MLK in the PSAL Class A semifinals: “Phenomenal. There’s no doubt that he’s the best goalie I’ve seen in the PSAL.”

Faye, raised in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, will attend SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica – on a full financial aid package – where, Jacobson said, he will start immediately. Faye had received serious interest from Division I schools Stony Brook, Hartford and Albany, but he didn’t pass the NCAA Clearinghouse because he took ESL classes his first two years at MLK.

The 6-foot-3, athletically gifted Faye, 18, gave plenty of credit to Bouna Coundoul, his countryman and a former MLK standout in goal. Coundoul, who plays for Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, suggested Faye attend MLK when he was preparing to come to the United States. The two are still close, often working out together when time permits.

“He helped me a lot during the offseason,” Faye said.

Jacobson compared Faye favorably to Coundoul and Sahkir Seck, another elite Senegalese keeper he had who has since joined the US Army. He wouldn’t list any of the three, under his watch at least, as better than one another. But he likes Faye’s upside nevertheless.

“He’s got a different limberness to him,” the coach said. “I feel Malick will be a pro.”

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