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Oceanside back on course

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After a sluggish start, the Oceanside boys’ soccer team has rediscovered its game and vaulted itself as an early contender in Conference AA1.

Following a scoreless tie at South Side and a 3-0 loss to Massapequa in their home opener, the Sailors rallied to tie Westbury and beat Baldwin and Freeport to move above .500 through five games. The consecutive victories already leave Oceanside one shy of its entire total of last year (3-3-6.)

“I’m definitely happy with where we are,” said third-year coach Patrick Turk. “We were not mentally focused in the Massapequa game. That wasn’t who we really are as a team. But we were able to bounce back and recover.”

Sophomore David Acker used his head, literally, to help the Sailors avoid a three-game winless start and start their road to recovery on Sept. 9. Down 1-0 to Westbury with 10 minutes left in regulation, junior Ben Sanchez sent a pass into the box, where a well-positioned Acker found a seam in the defense and used his noggin to redirect the ball into the goal for a 1-1 tie.

It was also Oceanside’s first goal of the season.

“It was an amazing boost for all of us because it’s that fight,” Turk said. “I see that fight in the boys every day at practice, but it’s also great to see in a game.”

Oceanside again needed some late heroics to secure its first win of 2019 two days later. Junior Matthew Meagher, who also stars on defense, found the back of the net with 25 minutes left in the game off a feed from sophomore Christopher Evans to give the Sailors a 1-0 victory over Baldwin.

That was followed by the team’s biggest offensive output in almost three years in a 4-1 rout of Freeport on Sept. 13. Senior Jonathan Gamarra notched his first two goals of the season and Acker and junior Ryan O’Sullivan also tallied for the Sailors, who hadn’t scored four goals in a game since a 6-0 win over Westbury on Oct. 21, 2016.

“It was great,” Turk said of his team’s performance that night. “It lets the boys know that we’re not hoping and praying that we get a goal, but we’re fully capable of coming out and scoring when we put our minds to work and the play the way that we work.”

Acker was among the JV’s top scorers last year, earning him a callup to the top level this summer. What he lacks in height, he makes up for with his soccer IQ and toughness when it comes to tackling and handling hits.

“David has handled the transition extremely well,” Turk said. “He’s a very intelligent player and sees and anticipates the field in a very unique way.”

Senior Zach Macer (17 saves) and sophomore Scott Campuzano (12 with 1 shutout) have split time in goal and Turk said he will continue to base his starting assignments on feel and how well they fare in practice and pregame warmups.