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MAMARONECK — The stands were packed with fans from Scarsdale and Mamaroneck who were anticipating a closely contested league match under the lights on Friday night, but what they witnessed was pure domination by the Tigers.
“Today during school we were all a little bit nervous, but we just played as a team and got the win,” Mamaroneck junior Juan Giraldo said. “That’s the most important thing. Hard work pays off.”
The main reason for Mamaroneck’s lopsided 4-1 win was the lethal combination of strikers Giraldo and Nick Tunic up top.
“Last year, it was kind of hard because I got injured at the beginning of the season and I tried to get back at the end of the season, but I couldn’t,” Giraldo said. “This year with Nick, he took a lot of pressure off of me because he’s a really good player.”
Giraldo was relied on to do most of the scoring for the Tigers (7-0) last season as a sophomore while Tunic was playing with his U.S. Soccer Academy team. But with Tunic returning to his high school team for his senior season, the burden has been lifted and the results have been striking.
“It was a good year last year,” said Tunic, who is committed to Central Connecticut State. “A lot of competition, but my senior year, I really wanted to play with all of my friends. We’ve been playing together since we were little boys, and I just wanted to play my senior year. I also committed, which helped me out making the decision. But I really just wanted to play with my friends for my senior year.”
Mamaroneck came into its first league match of the year having outscored its opponents 25-2 through its first six games, but a loss to the rival Raiders (3-2-2) would have put a damper on the hot start.
Tunic got the scoring started in just the second minute on a feed from Giraldo right in front of the Scarsdale goal, and then Giraldo got a goal of his own by speeding past the defense in the 27th minute. In the 31st minute, Tunic buried a penalty kick to make it 3-0.
“Juan is a fantastic player,” Tunic said. “Me and him, we work very well together. Him dribbling the ball, and then me in space running onto it, it’s being going well. But we have to keep that up.”
Scarsdale didn’t even get a shot off until the final minute of the first half, and then Giraldo struck again in the opening minute of the second half on an assist from Elver Maldonado to extend the lead to 4-0 and essentially seal the win.
Neils Mariager scored the lone goal for the Raiders in the 76th minute in his first game back from a pectoral injury.
“That’s amazing,” Tunic said of playing in front of the home crowd. “None of that in academy. It feels so good representing the school for these big rivalry games.”
• I know it’s early and we’ve seen Mamaroneck get off to hot starts in the past, but boy, I walked away very impressed. This was the most complete and explosive team that I’ve seen so far this season. Granted, I still haven’t seen Arlington, but the Tigers do everything well. And I haven’t seen any strikers who look like they can match the production of Tunic and Giraldo. “The results are going good, but as everyone knows, we’ve been hot in the past, too,” Tunic said. “We just have to keep this going and we’re working hard every single time at training, hoping we can get the job done this year.”
• Mamo came out flying, and had a handful of opportunities in the opening 10 minutes. Tunic cashed in on the first, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. “It’s definitely very important,” Tunic said. “Early goals are always good, and we just kept saying, ‘Keep going, keep going,’ and we were able to get a few more, which helped us out a lot.”
• Giraldo’s first goal – the second of the game for the Tigers – was one of those plays where a coach is yelling, “No, no, no!” but then it quickly turns to “Yes, yes, yes!” Tunic fed him just past midfield, and Giraldo did the rest. He has a tremendous ability to stay composed with the ball at his feet, and he also has the speed to blow by defenders. “Nicky just gave me the pass, and I saw a little space,” Giraldo said. “I just took it through and shot it to the other side of the goal.”
• Scarsdale did not look great in the loss, but there haven’t been any teams that have looked very good against Mamaroneck so far this year. They’re probably out of the league title picture now after losses to Mamo and New Rochelle, but I still think this will be a top seven or eight team in Class AA by season’s end. As for the Tigers, they have another big league test coming next Tuesday, when they travel to play at White Plains.
MORE RESULTS FROM FRIDAY
Brendan Roche scored a goal on an assist by William Baffuto with eight minutes to go to lead Pelham to a 2-1 win over visiting Sleepy Hollow Friday.
Just four days earlier, the Pelicans suffered a heart-wrenching 2-1 overtime loss to Bronxville. Since then, Pelham has won a pair of one-goal games, an indication to Pelicans coach Terence Huvane that his 3-3-1 team is capable of turning the season around.
“It shows that we have a lot of grit coming off a very tough loss,” Huvane said.
Charlie Livingstone scored the first Pelham goal on an assist from Roche. The Pelicans were able to gain some momentum after Sleepy Hollow’s Danny Elia received his second yellow card and was ejected from of the game.
“We have a lot of respect for Sleepy Hollow because they are a good program,” Huvane said. “They are physical and, even with a man down, they kept coming. So we never wanted to relax. It definitely rattled them, though.”
Oscar Salazar scored a goal, assisted by Elia, for the Headless Horsemen in the first half. Sleepy Hollow was shut down in the second half thanks to a stellar defense and the efforts of goalie Vincent Mazzaro, who had five saves.
“We have stressed that it is important to have a unified team effort and that’s what we did today — play together as a team,” Huvane said. “We have some tough games coming up, like Eastchester and Edgemont, so we will see how we do going forward.”
Best of the rest: Rooben Michel had two goals and an assist for Spring Valley in a 7-2 win over Ramapo. … Jack Berritt scored two goals for Hastings in a 2-1 win over Dobbs Ferry. … Matt Brady and Kevin Keil each scored a goal for Nanuet in a 2-0 win over Albertus Magnus. … Sam Aherne had a goal and an assist in Bronxville’s 2-0 win at Eastchester. … Niko Rahaniotis scored the go-ahead goal off of a pass from Cole Spagnol in Clarkstown North’s 2-1 win at home over Clarkstown South. … Suffern and North Rockland tied 0-0.
Photos by Carucha L. Meuse/Video by Vincent Z. Mercogliano