Friday, 16 December 2011 00:00
Mineola High School Boys Soccer coach Paul Pereira knew years ago that he had something special in the pipeline when he saw Christian Lird and Denis Lazo-Cruz, just barely out of elementary school; play at the now defunct Mineola Summer Sports Program and as part of the Mineola Middle School soccer program. Lird and Lazo-Cruz, along with a tremendously talented supporting cast that included Daniel Muller, Paul Sandoval, and Richie Forte kept Mineola soccer at the highest levels of Nassau County soccer. The graduation of this class caps off a tremendous resurgence in Mineola soccer that began nearly a decade ago with the likes of Gustavo Dias, Michael Marques, and Nuno Rodrigues.
Christian and Denis were undoubtedly the leaders of this team that enjoyed so much success. Both capped their impressive careers at Mineola with numerous accolades bestowed upon them by Nassau County Soccer Coaches Association and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Denis was named to the All County team for the third consecutive year, a feat only accomplished once before (Michael Marques) in Mineola soccer history.
Denis was the only soccer player in Nassau County in this graduating class to be named All County three times. For his work ethic, on and off the field, he was awarded the Mike Dillon Memorial scholarship by the NCSCA. The highlight of the night was when Denis was recognized as an All State selection (one of only 11 in Nassau).
Christian was once again named All County for the second consecutive year. He was also named the Conference VII Player of the Year beating out very talented competition from Island Trees as well as from his own team. Christian finished his stellar career at Mineola with 20 goals and 15 assists. Both young men were also named team captain in their junior and senior years.
Junior Josh Lopes and senior Paul Sandoval were awarded Honorable Mention All County status, and the All Conference selections were Richie Forte, Daniel Muller, Andre Cancelinha, Daniel Pardo, and Kevin Mulder. Caique Mello was recognized as the team’s Scholar-Athlete. Ten Mustangs were recognized in one form or another at the end of the year Nassau County Soccer Awards Dinner.
In the last four seasons, the Mustangs accumulated an overall record of 37-19-10 (30 shutouts) and a league record of 26-13-9. In that span, the team qualified for post season play each year and notched double digit victories three times.
Several members of this year’s team are likely to play at the collegiate level joining numerous alumni that are currently playing at Division I, II, and III programs in the tri-state area. With so much talent and experience graduating it will be a challenge to maintain the level accomplished over the last decade but if the recent past is any indication the boys soccer program at MHS will continue to thrive.