If there’s a single description about soccer teams coached by Nick Punzone, it’s that they are never, ever marked by a superstar. There’s never a player who does it all, because that kind of team, he says, will never amount to anything.
“You can’t just key on one person,” Punzone said. “I hate when it’s one person. If you have just one guy, the other team can just take that guy out of the game.”
His James Madison girls’ soccer team is just the way he likes it this year: balanced, with multiple weapons. The Knights are 5−1 in PSAL Brooklyn A−III, good enough for first place with 15 points. Seniors Aleksandra Pinkhasova and Akeylah Patrick have been steady and Punzone has gotten tremendous production out of freshman Ysamar Moran, who has four goals and four assists.
Moran is a 5−foot−7 strong−footed player who can play either midfield or forward. She’s helped solidify an offense that wasn’t able to finish enough last year, the coach said.
“This year it has all come together,” Punzone said. … “She’s got some power when she kicks it.”
Patrick has the speed to match Moran’s power. She and freakishly athletic junior goalkeeper Jamecia Forsythe are imports from Madison’s girls’ basketball team. Forsythe, a FiveBoroSports.com All−Brooklyn Honorable Mention in hoops, is raw between the pipes, but she is 5−feet−9 and incredibly long.
“She’s a big reason why we’re as good as we are,” Punzone said.
The coach said it’s clear to see that she hasn’t played much goalkeeper, but her instincts and reaction time are impeccable. She made a handful of impressive saves in an upset of perennial power Midwood last year in the final game of the regular season that got the Knights into the playoffs.
“She’s been ridiculous,” Punzone said. “She makes some saves that are amazing. … She wins some games for us by herself.”
But don’t call her a star. Punzone doesn’t like that word and he doesn’t want any of his players to get a big head or believing she is above the team. That’s the philosophy that helped Punzone’s Madison boys’ soccer team become one of the city’s best teams most of the fall. It’s the same formula a few months later.
“We’re a little scrappy,” the coach said. “We’re not killing anyone.”
But the Knights are getting the job done.
©2009 Community News Group
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