Oceanside United defeated Olympiacos NY O-50 in the final. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — During the post-game trophy ceremonies of the Over-40 Division of the Joe Goldberg Long Island Soccer Football League indoor tournament Sunday, the entire Oceanside United team raised its arms to the heaven and shouted in unison, “For Vito!”
They were honoring their much beloved late player-coach, Vito Sguera, who passed away from cancer in August at the age of 51.
And what better what to accomplish that but by winning their division indoor championship at Global Soccer at the Mitchel Athletic Complex. Oceanside defeated Olympiacos NY O-50 in the final, 1-0.
“First of all, we dedicated this team to Mr. Goldberg. He started this club,” Oceanside United SC’s Mario Gentile said of the man for whom the LISFL tournament is named. “Then I took over after him and I got a whole bunch of guys who really played together such good soccer.
“Vito played for me all his life. He gave everything he got. What else can i say? He was a great guy. We have a great club and great coaches. I am very honored to have these guys.”
Gentile, a member of the LISFL Hall of Fame, said winning the indoor crown was special because of Sguera.
“He was a 1,000 percent into the soccer league, 1,000 percent for the kids,” he said. “He was a great coach to the kids. He took a team to Italy. He did everything possible to make and promote soccer in Oceanside. He was a great, great person, a great friend.”
Sguera was an assistant coach with Oceanside United SC’s Under-23 team that finished in third place in the Nassau West division of the Ryder-Vass U-23 Cup with a 6-3-1 mark.
“Vito used to be my teammate, great player, helluva person,” Oceanside United’s Tony Santos said. “Unlucky he had to leave us so early, but I guess he’s in a better place right now. Hopefully, he’s enjoying this win.
“This trophy and this tournament are dedicated to Vito. The trophy will go to his wife, so she has a good memory from all of us.”
Brahim Atlagh made sure he and his teammates were in a position to honor Sguera as he snapped a scoreless draw with a goal from the left side off a pass from Jose Flores with 45.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
“I pulled up to the penalty spot and I was wide open,” “Atlagh said. “He passed to me and I scored it.”
Oceanside United went only 2-2-2 during group play, losing to defending champion Lindenhurst in that part of the tournament, 2-1. The team, however, won when it counted, besting Lindenhurst in the semifinals, winning via penalty kicks, 4-3 and then capturing the final. Lindenhurst won the group stage with a 5-1 record.
“It’s very exciting,” said Atlagh, who noted Oceanside had lost to Lindenhurst in last year’s final. “We came up short. They beat us. We learned from the mistakes we made last year. We played a good team. We know how they played.”
Added Santos: “The win was pretty good. The team stayed on what we planned to do. The guys were ready to play. Today was our lucky day.”