Solomon Schechter players, coaches and team staff members wore special shirts for its game vs. Greenport. (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
CORAM, N.Y. — You might say that the Solomon Schechter High School boys soccer players wore their hearts on their sleeves Tuesday afternoon. Or better yet, on their chests.
Only hours after the horrific killing of 11 Jewish people at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday, it was with a heavy heart that Solomon Schechter played and defeated Alexander Hamilton, 1-0, in the Section 1 Class C boys semifinals
The Lions won the game, but head coach Bryan Lamana wanted to do something special, so he had warm-up shirts with hoodies made up for their next game — against Greenport H.S. in the sub-Southeast Regional Tuesday.
The green jerseys in white letters said:
“Our whole community has been rallying around this,” Lamana said. “It was obviously a tough weekend for everyone across the country, more specifically, Jews. Our community was hit by something like this. It was devastating. To use this team as a rallying point and to play for something and to play for something a little bit bigger was really meaningful for the guys.”
Solomon Schechter, a school for Jewish boys and girls located in Hartsdale, N.Y. in Westchester County, played its hearts out against Greenport, but went down to a 5-1 defeat at Diamond in the Pines.
“Before our Saturday sectional final, we heard the news early in the morning,” said senior captain Ethan Sidelsky, who tallied the Lions’ lone goal. “It’s something that was definitely on our minds and we had them on our minds when we tried to play for them.
“For this game we wanted to get some T-shirts to kind of represent them. We wanted to get a win for them to keep them in our hearts, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. But we gave it all they had.”
The Lions (7-9) wore their new jerseys during pregame warm-ups and when the national anthem was played. Needless to say, the team was emotionally charged in both matches.
“It definitely [helped] us a lot, more so, getting us through the sectional final,” Sidelsky said. “That was huge for us. And keeping it in our minds even this game. Even though we went down big at the end, we just kept fighting and we never gave up.”
Lamana said the jerseys were an appropriate gesture.
“We’re a private school playing in a public school league,” he said. “We don’t think there’s a whole lot of Jewish schools left. So, we feel very much connected and a part of what took place. Its unbelievable how it can hit home for so many people that aren’t from Pittsburgh.”
On a sunny autumn day with nary a cloud in the sky, William Chapeton and Kevin Amaza each scored two goals for the Porters, who dominated the game from start to finish.
“It was a tough one,” Lamana said. “The beginning of this game we a lot like our sectional final game against Alexander Hamilton. Great team. We played a lot of defense. They had most of the possession. We couldn’t get a lot of offense going, which was very reminiscent of what just took place Saturday night when we upset Hamilton. A little too little, too late. We brought up Sidelsky up in the second half to try to create some offense. Just kind of fell apart in the back, let up a few more goals.”
Sidelsky, whose shot hit the left post earlier, scored off a nifty 20-yard free kick from the left side that curled around the defensive wall into the lower right corner past goalkeeper Miguel Torres.
“Unfortunately, too little too late,” Lamana said. “The ball wasn’t really bouncing our ball today. Greenport, great team, a lot of possession. I wish them the best moving forward.”
Sidelsky had similar sentiments as Greenport will play S.S. Seward in the Southeast Regional in Middletown, N.Y. at 4 p.m. Friday.
“Definitely a tough game for us,” he said. “Just going to give credit to Greenport because they’re really good. They just outplayed us. Props to them for that. I wish them luck going forward.”