When his Lehman boys soccer team went down two goals halfway through the first half, one thought popped into Pat Straw’s head.
“I’m not going to parent-teacher conference,” the coach thought to himself, “because I’m not going to want to talk to any parents.”
The fifth-seeded Lions made sure he wasn’t a no-show, rallying for a dramatic 4-2 win over Susan Wagner Tuesday afternoon in The Bronx. Lehman (11-0-3) will now face No. 4 Tottenville in the quarterfinals next Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at New Dorp HS.
Midfielder Sam Aghahowa got the Lions’ first goal, in the 26th minute. Instead of celebrating, he darted into the net, grabbed the ball and returned it to the center circle, so play could resume immediately.
“At that point, I knew we were going to win the game,” Straw said.
Aghahowa set up the next goal with a run down the center of the field. He was tripped up in the box and Oscar Sosa drilled the resulting penalty kick top shelf. Maxi Berterame got the go-ahead tally on a header off an Aghahowa throw-in in the 55th minute and Viktor Smajlaj added the all-important insurance goal.
“He played a phenomenal game,” Straw said of Aghahowa, who had three assists. “Definitely his best game all year long.”
Despite the early deficit, Straw was impressed by the fight his team displayed. They were controlling play before Falcons (11-3-3) striker Alfonso Castaneda struck in the15th minute and Omar Santos added a goal on a 25-yard free kick five minutes later.
Straw didn’t speak to his team at that point. Seniors Aghahowa, Berterame and Ardit Gocaj did all the talking, imploring their teammates to press on.
“They stepped it up and showed true leadership,” Straw said. “If they can carry that into the Tottenville game, Tottenville will have a problem.”
“At 2-0, we could’ve easily put our hands up in the air, put our heads on the ground and give in to them,” he went on. “It just shows the character these kids have. They weren’t going to let a team from Staten Island come into The Bronx and knock them out of the playoffs. It’ll be one of my most memorable victories.”
©2009 Community News Group