BY MARC MATURO
There were thousands upon thousands on hand on Mother’s Day as the Red Bulls hosted the first-year NYCFC in Harrison, N.J. — just a few more feverish fans in attendance than there were a week prior at Zukor Park in New City as the Clarkstown Over-40 Soccer Club took on its counterpart from Teaneck, N.J.
Sold-out stadium or not, the intensity of competition on the New City pitch among players ranging from their early 40s into their late 50s and early 60s could not be mistaken for a “friendly” between two international sides. (Ed note: the average age was kept down as Joe Moger of Congers, the septuagenarian long-time driving force for the home team, was not required to see action, and besides which, he was nursing an injury.)
“I can go another year or two, but it’s very demanding; my Achilles is bothering me and it’s not as much fun as it used to be,” offered Richard Marchese of Nanuet, a relative lad of 45 years of age who came to the team six years ago via Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “I’m one of the younger guys, for sure, but when you get to our age we don’t even take note of our age. These teams we play are very physical; guys from South America … Europe play like it’s the World Cup. You can’t tell them to take it easy.”
Marchese, a plant manager for Chrysler in Tappan, played the striker position five seasons at the University of Toronto and also for the Hamilton Steelers in the now-defunct Canadian Soccer.
Marchese, whose older brother Marc was a top-notch player at the University of Windsor and played in the North American Soccer League (predecessor to MLS), will not transition into golf like his brother.
Never say die
Others players, such as 53-year-old Jimmy Balaj of New City, who runs a small construction company; 49-year-old building superintendent Masis Tamazian of Valley Cottage; and Allstate agent Kevin Drummond of Valley Cottage hope to keep playing — forever, it seems, like Mr. Moger, who somehow finds the time and energy to also run an auto business in Nyack.
“I want to go as long as I can, as long as I can stay healthy. I was always an excellent goal-scorer, in Switzerland and the former Yugoslavia,” noted Balaj, a very physical player whose son, Artan, was a full-scholarship soccer player at Dominican College in Orangeburg.
Tamazian, who is recovering from meniscus surgery but expects to return later in the season, has been playing the game for 25 years, performing on the Armenian National Team in the former Soviet Union.
He’s always been a forward, and expects to keep going forward.
“I can do 60 (years old) easy,” predicts Tamazian, who said his brother, Harout, was one of the best strikers ever for Clarkstown before moving to California. “As a forward you are always injured; we get beat up by the defenders. One moment you’re running fast and the next you’re flat on your back, but I expect to keep playing for a long time.”
Drummond is just 50, another ‘young’ guy, even if he doesn’t always feel that way.
“Sometimes it takes a week to recover,” Drummond said. “My idol is Joe; want to go as long as you can. As long as I can stand I will play.
Drummond, who was a sweeper at upstate Hobart College, got his start as a kid on Long Island.
“We all played and I never looked back,” added Drummond, who started with the Clarkstown men’s team, graduated to the Over-30 team and then moved to the Over-40 team.
Like old soldiers and Moger the Elder, these players will eventually fade away – maybe.
BOULDERS BOOST CHARITY: Beginning on May 21 in conjunction with Camp Venture, the Rockland Boulders will host its fifth annual Charity Challenge along with Active International. The Active International/Rockland Boulders Charity Challenge will take place over the course of 13 games throughout the season. For more information, or to purchase tickets to one of the Charity Challenge Nights, access www.RocklandBoulders.com or call 845-364-0009.
MONAGHAN, RED DRAGONS ADVANCE: Junior Tara Mongahan of Stony Point powered the Cortland women’s lacrosse team with six goals, an assist and four draw controls as the nationally second-ranked Red Dragons built a 14-3 lead at the half in earning a 21-4 victory against Castleton State in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs at the Stadium Complex. The Red Dragons improved to 18-1 and are slated to host a four-team regional May 16-17.
KING FOR A CAREER: Clarkstown North HS alumna Meghan King of New City received the Blue Angels Award and gave the keynote speech as The College of New Rochelle held its annual Leadership and Athletics Banquet at Beckwith Pointe Club. Nearly 70 student-athletes were recognized at the dinner, with seniors Lee-Anne Daley, Alyssa Pechin and King taking home the highest awards. King took home the Blue Angels Award after a record of achievement demonstrating outstanding ability and academic performance, generous service to the college community, and dedication to the values of the college. The Blue Angels Award was inaugurated to honor Kathie LeVache, professor of physical education who retired in 1998 after a distinguished 45-year career.
SETTERS SUCCEED: Suffern HS alum Peter Sharp of Airmont and Anthony Gadaleta of Kings Park each scored three goals to help the Pace University men’s lacrosse team captured the ECAC Championship with a 12-9 victory over Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. Sharp and Gadaleta also scooped up two groundballs apiece for the Setters, who led 5-2 at the break. Sharp, a sophomore attack/midfielder, tied for third on the team with 30 points on the season.
QUICK HITTERS: Pitcher/infielder Danny Demetrops and catcher AJ Gallager of Rockland Community College were named to the all-Mid Hudson Conference first team in baseball, while shortstop Jareil Burgos was selected to the second team. … Junior infielder Joey Aiola of Suffern has two RBI as the Marist College baseball team defeated Fairfield, 7-4, in the first game of a twin-bill in Poughkeepsie. Marist fell, 5-1, in the nightcap. … North Rockland HS graduate Phil Lucien of Garnerville, a thrower on the Cortland track and field team, placed fourth in the shot put (46 feet 2 inches) and seventh in the discus (138-3) at the University at Albany Purple & Gold Last Chance Meet. … Infielder Anthony Simon of Suffern went 3-for-5 with two RBI to lead a 13-hit attack for the nationally top-ranked Cortland baseball team, which concluded its regular-season with a 12-8 non-league loss to visiting St. John Fisher College. The Red Dragons (36-4), who already have won the SUNYAC championship, were to return to action at the NCAA Division III Regional at Falcon Park in Auburn. Cortland will serve as the host institution for the double-elimination regional.
THIS & THAT: The Rockland County Track & Field Hall of Fame Induction Dinner is set May 16 at 6 p.m. at Minisceongo Golf Club in Pomona. North Rockland coach Gene Dall headlines a stellar induction class. Tickets can be purchased through Bill Dailey at 845-323-0976. … The sixth annual Conklin Softball Tournament and Dinner is scheduled on June 13. The tourney is held at the Nanuet School District athletic fields beginning at 7 a.m., and the dinner is set for 7 p.m. at the Pearl River Elks Club. Access firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-608-6643.