By Adam Bernstein
The score was 1-1 in the Rebels’ first playoff soccer game. Only ten minutes remained, and Great Neck’s number 10 had the ball. Senior Jorey Garcia easily swerved past one defender, leaving just one man left to beat. He sprinted ahead down the sideline, as the last defender closed in with a full head of steam. The Cold Spring Harbor center back slid in, a last resort effort to poke the ball away from Garcia’s swift feet. Garcia seamlessly pushed the ball past the defender and easily hopped over the attempted tackle. Next, Garcia cut inside, took two more dribbles and slotted the ball home into the bottom left corner of the goal. This was the second goal of his eventual hat trick, powering the Rebels to a 3-1 playoff victory.
These were just three of his thirteen goals this season, making Garcia the Nassau County League Top Scorer. His awards and recognitions reached far beyond that, however. He was named the top player in the conference. He received All-County recognition, meaning he was one of the top players in Nassau County. He also received All-State recognition, an award acknowledging him as one of the best in a pool of players from all of New York, including Long Island, New York City, Westchester, and upstate. The most prestigious award he has received to date is the All-Region honor—an award that establishes Garcia as one of the top players in the entire Northeast.
Way before Garcia was All-State or the leading scorer in Nassau County, he was a three-year-old kicking around a soccer ball for the first time. Garcia credits his father for instilling in him at a young age both a love of the game and a consistent work ethic. His father, himself a former professional soccer player, has been Garcia’s most consistent coach. Of everything his father has taught him, Garcia values the criticism most. He said, “He criticizes the way I play to eventually make me a better player.”
South’s varsity soccer coach Chris McCann also contributed to Garcia’s growth. Unlike most varsity athletes, Garcia played three years on the varsity squad. As a result, he got to know Coach McCann very well. Garcia said, “When I started playing freshman year, Coach gave me the confidence that I needed to become a better player and to believe in myself.” Garcia appreciates most that McCann allowed him to “play freely.” By never putting substantial pressure on Garcia, McCann encouraged him to play to his full potential.
The awards Garcia has won validate all of his passion and hard work; however, Garcia is even more grateful for his experience as captain of a team that he loved. “They gave me the confidence and backing on the field that I needed to be successful. I owe everything to them,” he said.
Even though his career at South may be over, his soccer career as a whole is just beginning. Garcia hopes to play soccer in college; Adelphi, Oswego, Bryant, and New Haven have already shown interest.
While Garcia has seen his last days playing on the South soccer field, he is optimistic about the future of varsity soccer at South. He offered the following advice: “All I can say is enjoy every moment of the season. Be a united team, it’s the only way to be successful. But, most importantly, leave everything on the field and regret nothing because the season is too short; it’s over before you think.”