Pandemonium: Northeast celebrates its first league soccer title since 2012. ED MORRONE / TIMES PHOTO
When the Northeast soccer team trudged off the field following last year’s disappointing loss to Central in the Public League championship game, Abraham Kamara was a few miles away, helping Father Judge win the Catholic League title.
When Kamara opted to leave Judge after his junior year and come to Northeast, the Vikings had a feeling there would be no deja vu in 2014.
They were right.
Kamara scored three goals in Tuesday night’s 4–1 championship round victory over rival George Washington, giving head coach Kraig Feldman his first league title after his father, Sam, won two of his own in 2007 and 2012. Sam retired after that final season, passing the baton to his son.
Sam couldn’t be there Tuesday, as he was traveling back to Pennsylvania from a trip to Italy, but Kamara ensured he would have an opportunity to see the Vikings play another game. They’ll next suit up on Friday in the District 12 title game against Catholic League champion Archbishop Wood.
“I’m so excited right now, especially doing it my senior year,” Kamara said afterward amidst a throng of student supporters who rushed the field when time expired. “I dreamed of winning the Public League title since I was in middle school. I had a chance, and I just went for it. This has been our goal since day one.”
Kamara had his arm draped around the shoulder of Mario Kureta, his club teammate and Northeast’s sweeper and senior captain, whom Kraig Feldman called “the team’s backbone, its spine, its everything” before the game started. It was an equally triumphant feat for Kureta, especially considering he was a part of last year’s team that fell short in the title game.
“This right here means everything in the world to me,” he said. “Last year we lost, but we came back stronger than anyone thought. It feels amazing. We were hungry, and we wanted this from our first day of practice. This team’s goal is always to win a championship. We wanted it more than anyone else, and it showed out there on the field tonight.”
The Vikings scored the first two goals of the game, with junior Adin Hernandez-Carrera striking first a little less than 12 minutes into the first half. Kamara scored his first of three with 14:35 remaining in the half, but the Eagles cut the lead in half with 6:51 left on a tally by junior Stepan Fytsyk. The game stayed close for much of the second half, but Kamara scored with 12:53 left to create some separation on the scoreboard, then put the cherry on top of his hat trick with 8:45 left in the game.
Now, Northeast, who has not lost during the 2014 season (including a convincing 4–1 win over Archbishop Ryan) could rest easy and celebrate, a much more preferable option than how last season ended.
“This right here, it keeps us bonded forever,” Kureta said. “I’m never going to forget this day. When I saw that clock hit zero and saw all those people in the stands running up to us … I loved it. This team here, we can compete with the Catholic League. I truly believe that, and I want to show it to everyone else.”
If Kamara keeps scoring goals at such a rapid rate, it’s hard to see anyone slowing the Vikings down.
“When I knew I was coming to this school, I wanted to play with these guys so badly,” Kamara said. “I just knew I had to do my job and keep putting goals on the board. This here is not just a team; it’s a family. We just kept pushing on. I played (Wood) last season and didn’t get a goal chance. Now we’re going to play them again, and I want to score.”
Later on, Feldman, who had a vise-like grip around the Public League trophy, reflected on how much this win meant to him, and presumably, his father.
“This is three months of hard work,” he said. “We got our hearts broken last year, and I’m just honored to work with these guys and lead them back again. It’s been a real pleasure.”
And what did Kraig think his dad would say when he heard the good news?
“I bet you he’s going to start crying,” Kraig said with a laugh. “He’s my biggest fan, and it killed him not to be here tonight. But he’s just as big a part of the team as I am, and all the kids know it.”
Kraig complimented his two standout players, saying that, “All Abe does is score goals.” Not only that, but Kamara’s presence opened up more space and opportunities for Hernandez-Carrera, giving Northeast a lethal one-two punch up top. And Kureta “does so much for the team beyond his defensive responsibilities. He keeps the team united as one, and he’s so strong and fast that I know he can overpower anything that comes his way.”
Feldman called his team tenacious, and he, like Kamara and Kureta, are hoping the Vikings’ run is not over yet. But for now, he was happy to be on top of the Public League soccer world; in fact, Feldman said he might take the trophy home for one night and sleep next to it in his bed before bringing it back to school on Wednesday.
“I’m so excited, because I never got one of these before for myself,” he said. “But we’ll bring it back tomorrow and everyone will come by and give it a touch and a kiss.”
Champs: Northeast head soccer coach Kraig Feldman (left) and senior forward Abraham Kamara celebrate as Public League soccer champions thanks to Kamara’s hat trick in Tuesday night’s 4–1 win over Washington. ED MORRONE / TIMES PHOTO