Six former players, a beloved and ground-breaking administrator and the New York Arrows will be honored by the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Doc Lawson, Peter Jianette, Nicky Megaloudis, John Lignos, Jean Varas and Mary Theresa Varas will be inducted into the Hall in public ceremonies at the Huntington Hilton in Melville, N.Y. that night.

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Peter Collins, the late president of the Long Island Junior Soccer League, will be honored and recognized with the Paul LeSueur Ambassador of the Game Award.

The Hall also will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the New York Arrows, who won their fourth and final Major Indoor Soccer League championship in 1982.

“The Class of 2022 is an extraordinary example of the amazingly rich history of soccer on Long Island,” LISPHOF founder Kevin L. McCrudden said. “In the early days of men’s and women’s soccer in America, you can find the footprints of some of the greatest and most influential players in America on Long Island. Never mind one of the most influential people in American soccer history, Mr. Peter Collins. Truly one of the ‘founding fathers’ of youth soccer on Long Island and America.”

Peter Collins

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The namesake of the award, LeSueur, a former New York Cosmos player, was an outstanding member of the Nassau County, Garden City, N.Y. and Long Island soccer communities. He was a peer of Collins in many ways.

Collins was president of the LIJSL from 1977-2004, as he grew the youth soccer league from a small community-based organization to one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the world. Collins, considered by many “the father of Long Island soccer,” passed away at 87 in 2018.

New York Arrows

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This year is the 40th anniversary of the Arrows fourth title. While the New York Islanders were busy winning four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1979-83 at the Nassau Coliseum, the Arrows competed in the same arena, making history themselves.

Some of the stars of that Arrows squad will be on hand for the event. Lawson, Jianette and Megaloudis were members of that team along with LISPHOF members Shep Messing and Ronnie Antanasio.

“The Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame not only represents world class athletes, but world class human beings,” LISPHOF executive director Jim Kilmeade said. “On behalf of our board of directors, we look forward to learning about their individual life stories and are honored to induct this distinguished Class of 2022. These seven individuals have collectively inspired and impacted the lives of thousands of young soccer players, coaches and fans across Long Island and the Country. We look forward celebrating the 1981-82 national champion – NY Arrows and the careers of Doc Lawson, Peter Jianette, Mary Theresa Varas, Jean Varas, Nick Megaloudis John Lignos and the man at the forefront of the sport on Long Island, Mr. Peter Collins.”

The six inductees

Doc Lawson

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Lawson was one of the most celebrated Arrows players. He also was a member of the 1987 MISL champion Dallas Sidekicks and was a seven-time MISL all-star. He was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, which did not attend the Moscow Games due to a boycott, U.S. men’s national team (three caps). Lawson was also a bronze medal winner at the 1989 Indoor Soccer World Championships and was a three-time All American at Southern Connecticut State University.

A native of Liberia, Lawson probably has accomplished more after his playing career. He has served as a board member with U.S. Soccer, U.S. Soccer Foundation; U.S. Soccer cross culture committee, 1994 World Cup host committee and as U.S. Soccer Olympic representative. He is a missionary in Liberia, where he has brought water, built schools and soccer.

Peter Jianette

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Jianette, a high school phenom, was drafted as the first-round territorial pick by the Arrows in 1980 and was a third-round pick by the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League draft. He signed with the Arrows in December 1980 during his senior year at Hicksville High School, where he recorded 67 goals and 27 assists in 65 games.

On Feb. 10, 1982, he made his professional debut and tore his ACL. Jianette spent three years with the club before signing with the Phoenix Pride (MISL). He played 34 games during the 1983-84 season with Phoenix before re-injuring his right knee. In 1981, Jianette participated in the FIFA World Youth Cup. In 1985 he played for the New York Express during its inaugural season as he led the team in scoring with nine goals in six games. He was named MVP of the team’s first match, a 8-5 win over the Arsenal indoor team. Jianette, however, tore his MCL and meniscus in the same knee during a game in Dallas on Dec. 12, 1986, ending his professional career.

Jianette also performed for the U.S. Under-16, U-17 and U-20 national teams. He wound up playing in 31 games in 14 countries on five continents with 16 full youth international appearances. The Hicksville native also participated in 9 international tournaments from 1978-82, highlighted by the 1981 U-20- World Championship in Australia.

Nicky Megaloudis

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Megaloudis played professionally for the Arrows, as well as the Houston Summit, Las Vegas Americans (MISL) and for the Houston Hurricane (NASL). He was a well-known soccer figure in the German American and Greek American Soccer Leagues with the renowned New York Atlas.

He also was an All-American at Long Island University, and a member of the U.S. men’s youth national team and Youth Olympic team.

Megaloudis also earned his USSF A Coaching License in 1993.

His extensive coaching resume ranges from the youth area as director of coaching for Pinecrest SC (Miami, Fla.) and Strike Force SC (Miami, Fla.). He has also worked as an ODP staff coach with Region IV, Nevada and Florida.

Megaloudis’ resume also includes coaching in the professional ranks with the Miami Fusion (Major League Soccer) Florida Strikers (United Soccer League.

In 2017, Megaloudis returned to his New York roots and joined the fine staff of the Manhattan SC, where he works today.

John Lignos

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Lignos played briefly with the Arrows, before joining the Express. He continued his indoor playing career with the Louisville Thunder and Canton Invaders where he won the American Indoor Soccer Association championship. Lignos also played outdoors with the New England Tea Men, which eventually moved to Jacksonville, Fla. He also helped the Tea Men to the 1983 American Soccer League championship. He also played with the Fort Lauderdale Sun (United Soccer League).

When he was 11, Lignos emigrated to the USA from Chios, Greece. He played his youth soccer career with Oceanside United and was a three-time All-Nassau County player at Freeport H.S. He also was an All American at Ulster Community College where he won two NJCAA championships.

Lignos also was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, and made one appearance with the USMNT playing, in a 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago on March 21, 1982.

Jean Varas

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Varas was a two-time All-American at Berner H.S. in Massapequa, N.Y. She also helped laid the foundation for the Massapequa Falcons, who captured the U.S. Youth Soccer’s Girls Under-18 national championship in 1986.

She also was a member of the newly formed Region 1 Olympic Development Program teams from 1981-83, which culminated with her selection to the 1983 U-18 U.S. Youth National team and was among the first female U.S. youth players to compete internationally when the team toured Europe.

Varas was a member of the Long Island team’s dominance in the Empire State Games from 1981-85, winning four gold medals and a silver. She attended the University of Central Florida from 1984-87, being selected to the All-South Regional team and was named an All-America in her senior year. Varas was a two-time participant in the College Cup, scoring 29 goals, good for 11th place on the school’s all-time list.

In 1984, Jean and her sister Mary were featured in Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd” for their accomplishments as soccer playing sisters. The appearance in SI was thought to be the first published recognition for female soccer players.

Varas participated in three U.S. Olympic Festivals, winning the gold medal with 1985 South team, and a silver at the 1987 US event.

She competed in the W-League (USL), the first U.S. national amateur women’s soccer league launched in 1994, before performing with the Orlando Lions and Tampa Bay.

Mary Theresa Varas

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Varas started playing with the Massapequa Thunderbirds in 1975, performing with the Massapequa Express, which won four consecutive Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Region I championships. She also played in three consecutive U.S. Youth National Championships, including the first U-19 youth national championship in 1980.

Varas attended Berner H.S. from 1977-81, where she led the team to the Nassau County and Long Island titles. She was named an All-American in her senior season.

She was a captain of the Long Island team, which dominated the Empire State Games for seven years (1979-85), winning five gold medals and two silver medals.

Varas attended the UCF. As a freshman, she led the team to the women’s national championship, which was governed by the now defunct Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and was named the MVP of the national tournament.  The next year, she paced UCF to the first NCAA championship game, UCF’s highest finish in history. Despite losing in the final, Varas was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player. She concluded her senior season with another NCAA tournament berth, making it three out of her four-year career. Varas’ honors included being an All-American in 1983 and was named UCF’s MVP or three years until being nudged out by future U.S. women’s national team legend, Michelle Akers.

In 1984, Mary Theresa and Jean were featured in Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd.”

There were few playing opportunities after college for women in 1985, but Varas played in three successive U.S. Olympic Festivals, winning gold in 1985 and silver in 1987. Her Orlando Caliber Comets teams also competed in the U.S. Women’s Amateur National Cup, reaching the 1994 national semifinals.