Northeast falls short of Public League soccer repeat

Kraig Feld­man nearly marched all the way to a Pub­lic League soc­cer cham­pi­on­ship in his first year as head coach, something that took his fath­er, Sam, 10 years to com­plete twice.

Un­for­tu­nately for Kraig, he will have to wait an­oth­er sea­son to hoist a cham­pi­on­ship trophy.

On Tues­day night on its home field, top-ranked North­east dropped a tightly-con­tested 1-0 con­test to third-seeded Cent­ral. The Vik­ings kept the Lan­cers pinned in their own end most of the game, and North­east had tons of op­por­tun­ist­ic chances to crack the scor­ing column.

However, it wasn’t meant to be, and Cent­ral’s Jason Pix­ley scored the game’s only goal with un­der 11 minutes to play in the first half. With the North­east de­fense strug­gling to get set deep in its own zone, Cent­ral’s Matt Kelly fired a throw-in that bounced in­to the Vik­ings’ box, where Pix­ley was po­si­tioned to knee the ball past goal­keep­er Kristi Isaku. Isaku was pulled from the game early in the second half and spent the rest of the con­test sit­ting alone be­hind North­east’s bench, cov­er­ing his head with his jer­sey.

Though Isaku couldn’t bear to watch the un­doubtedly dis­ap­point­ing res­ult, North­east’s sea­son was far more suc­cess­ful than it figured to be after Sam Feld­man re­tired fol­low­ing the 2012 Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship sea­son. With tal­en­ted seni­ors Chris Black and Andy Jean-Pierre gone to gradu­ation, tal­en­ted hol­d­overs such as George Chavez and Tyler Gorm­ley wer­en’t even sure they would re­turn, not wish­ing to play for any­one but Feld­man, who they grew to care deeply about.

Then a twist of fate brought Kraig Feld­man to North­east as a new sci­ence teach­er and head coach of the soc­cer team. That al­lowed the Vik­ings to keep Sam Feld­man around to aid in Kraig’s trans­ition, and both were on the side­lines shout­ing in­struc­tion to the team on Tues­day. Al­though they didn’t win the coveted cham­pi­on­ship (Sam Feld­man won soc­cer titles in 2007 and 2012), the Vik­ings did get to play 13 more games to­geth­er as a unit, win­ning 10, los­ing two and ty­ing one.

The win for Cent­ral was its first Pub­lic League soc­cer title since 2001. Pri­or to North­east win­ning it in 2012, Wash­ing­ton had won the three years pri­or.

“There’s really noth­ing I can say to take away the pain,” Kraig Feld­man told his heart­break­ing team on the bench fol­low­ing the fi­nal whistle. “Let’s just get up to the lock­er room and move on.”

Though seem­ingly ir­re­place­able play­ers like Chavez and Gorm­ley will gradu­ate, the Vik­ings will bring back ju­ni­or cap­tain Mario Kur­eta, as well as sopho­more Ad­in Hernan­dez-Car­rera, the team’s lead­ing goal scorer in 2013.

By way of win­ning the Pub­lic League crown, Cent­ral (11-7) will play Cath­ol­ic champ Fath­er Judge (19-1) in Fri­day night’s Dis­trict 12 Class AAA cham­pi­on­ship (7 p.m., North­east High School).

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