NORTHPORT, New York, October 2
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Why does the 1980 Northport boys varsity soccer team deserve to be the first team inducted into the Northport-East Northport School District’s athletic hall of fame? Let’s see.
During that season, the boys scored a total of 66 goals in 22 games, while allowing just 17 to reach the back of their net. Not good enough? The Tigers that year did not lose a home game, and when they playoffs came around, the boys went on the road and won seven straight games to become the New York state champions.
There are few certainties in this world. One of them is that the ’80 Tigers’ were a powerhouse.
Under coaches Stan Mechanic, Dave Cinarelli and Tony Nussbacher, Northport fielded one of the greatest teams in the school’s history; it was made up 28 boys.
First and foremost, captains Chris Mendelsohn and Todd Middlebrook managed the leadership roles for the team. Beyond them stood the 26 others: Lloyd Braider, Craig Follis, Mike Gavigan, Chris Girgenti, Bobby Haddow, Paul Haviland, Billy Hayes, John Hinchcliffe, Chris Hodson, Dave Jansen, Mike Kearns, James Lumpe, Alex Maibach, Jeff Ohl, Steve O’Neill, Steve Perciballi, Chris Pfaeffle, Mark Quigley, Wayne Rogers, Lance Roll, Rich Romanczyk, Steve Stone, Chris Sweeney, Eric Teepe, Rick Vichroski and Joe Wallace.
Oddly enough, though, to start the season, the Tigers didn’t look all that great. After dropping a non-league game on the road to what was then Berner High School 2-1, the Tigers would go on to start league play at just 3-2-1 – with another win in a non-league game against Bay Shore.
But from there, the Tigers turned it on.
Starting with Central Islip, Northport rattled off seven straight wins to finish league play at 9-2-1; and non-league contests at 2-1. They were ready for the playoffs.
The hot streak continued. A trip to John Glenn and then Bellport to face Bay Shore saw the Tigers twice triumph 1-0. In the Suffolk County semifinals and then finals, the Tigers took on Commack North and Walt Whitman – both times they won at Suffolk Community College.
Next up, a nemesis of the boys – the team that handed them their first loss of the season: Berner. Heading to Hofstra for the the Long Island Championship game the Tigers left with a 1-0 victory.
To New York state tournament the Tigers went: 5-1 and 4-0 they won.
For the first, and currently only, time Northport became Class A boys state champions.
“Winning was a great feeling, really tremendous. But it was the playing that was the greatest, and, of course, the parties,” Romanczyk, then a senior told The Rag after the championship game in December 1980.
As Romanczyk said, winning is a tremendous feeling; one the ’80 Tigers know all too well.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, October 2, 2014; A26)