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).