Jon Nierenberg of Sands Point was the star of the game as Friends Academy’s boys varsity soccer team completed its quest for a third state soccer championship, defeating a tough Lansing High School, 1-0, in the New York Class C State Championships.
Both teams kept the game at a tight 0-0, until 20 minutes into the second half, when a throw-in from senior Patrick Moodhe of Manhasset connected with the head of Nierenberg for the game’s only goal against Lansing.
The day before Friends had defeated Lake George HS with a convincing 3-0 victory in the semifinals. “Lansing came out with an excellent defensive game plan,” said Friends head coach Marshall Lindner. “They saw us play a very strong game against Lake George and they made a major commitment to team defense.”
Lansing also double-teamed Nierenberg, but was unable to contain his game-winning goal. “Their strategy was a brilliant move, but we continued to push hard for a game-winning goal,” Lindner said.
Friends enjoyed a successful season with 11 wins, one loss and two ties.
Lindner credits the team’s seniors, including Nierenberg, as pivotal in enhancing the mindset and ability of the team.
“The senior leadership was fantastic,” Lindner said. “These guys were driving everyone else. They pushed everybody to do the drills better and they constantly said to the younger players, ‘We have to play for each other.’ They would say, ‘You can’t play for a trophy or a title—you need to play for each other.’ There was this ethic that you went out there and played, not only team offense, but also team defense. We made the commitment to being an elite team.”
For Lindner, this level of teamwork is what defined the 2013-14 Quaker championship team. “The championship teams of 2009 and 2010 had four Division I players on the field at once. We’re not a school of 2,000 kids. To have four at the same time, that doesn’t always happen. We have some very fine players, but this was a team that was much more team-oriented. We passed the ball beautifully. And while we didn’t have four D-I players, we made up for it by playing like a team.”
In the end, playing for each other is what made the difference and turned this start-of-the-season okay team into a team that will forever be a state champion, Linder said. “If guys are willing to sacrifice for each other and play as a team, you can achieve a tremendous amount.”