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Freeport focused on playoff return

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The Freeport boys’ soccer team began planting the seeds toward its quest for a deep fall playoff run during the hot days of summer.

The Red Devils under first-year coach Craig Klasson took part in the Long Island Classic Tournament against some of the area’s top teams and saw high participation during open practices. Klasson, who arrived at Freeport after spending time as an assistant coach at Wantagh, said Freeport’s 11 seniors have made the transition seamless with their dedication and commitment to lead by examples for the varsity newcomers.

“I couldn’t ask for better men to have for my first year as a head coach,” said Klasson, who inherits a team that went 4-5-3 last year and just missed out on the Class AA playoffs after reaching the postseason three of the previous four years. “We are in a very competitive conference, but we hope to compete for a playoff spot.”

Klasson said the four traits he is trying to emphasize with his new team are family, integrity, selfness and toughness. Senior tri-captains Brian Vasquez, Randy Parada and Angel Flores-Miranda exude these characteristics and set the tone before the season when they led open practices during the summer.

“They are coaches on the field,” said Klasson of his senior leaders. “They are really embracing what I’m trying to bring to Freeport.”

Vasquez and Parada lead an experienced midfield with fellow senior Noe Gonzalez, who tallied three goals last year. Sophomore forwards Cesar Castro and Tyree Baskin will look to fuel scoring chances up top after making strides on varsity as freshmen. Returning forwards Rendersley Clercius and Sevastion Rivas will also play a role in the Freeport’s offense that is predicated on strong passing.

“We like to play a possession style game that has high temp passes and communication,” Klasson said. “We have a lot of depth and should be able to sub a lot.”

Freeport also returns plenty of experience on the backline featuring Elmer Artiga, Robert Hernandez, Chris Figueroa, Ismael Jimenez and Eddie Castellanos. Flores-Miranda anchors the defense as a veteran goalkeeper who recorded seven saves in 1-0 loss to Syosset in the season open last Friday.

A large number of newcomers create more options for Klasson to turn to in offensive and defensive formations that could change game-to-game. The first-year varsity players include seniors Gerson Fuenz, Joel Martinez, Chris Jaquez, Jorge Canas Jr., Pablo Arevalo, Eduardo Maradiaga-Herrera, Kevin Mejia and Josue Villeda.

After opening the season against Syosset, Uniondale and Westbury, Freeport will next hit the field at home Friday against Oceanside for a 4:30 p.n. kickoff.

In addition to seeking success on the field, Klasson is also looking for his 22-player roster to shine in the classroom and as positive role models in the high school. The team will be taking part in a walk for autism awareness on Oct. 13 at Jones Beach and other community service activities.

“Besides doing the right thing on the field I expect them and encourage them to the right thing off the field and in the community,” Klasson said.