They were perfect. The J. Taylor Finley Middle School boys’ soccer “blue” team completed its season with a perfect 10-0 record.
Coached by Huntington High School physical education teacher Alexander Nelson, Finley-Blue (the school’s two boys’ and two girls’ teams are designated “blue” and “white” in a nod to Huntington’s district colors) put many talented players on the field.
Eighth graders Robert Campbell (striker; seven goals), Jonathan Contreras (striker; five goals), Alexis Gomez (center back; one goal), Andrew Lopez (center back), Michael Tucker (center back; one goal) and Eduardo Reyes (striker and fullback; two goals) paced Finley.
Campbell led Finley in scoring before suffering a season-ending injury. “Robbie was the team's go-to striker who could win one on ones and even one on twos down the left side,” Nelson said.
Contreras also proved to be very efficient up top. “Jonathan was an expert holding striker who could always buy the team time to create runs up the field or score from far out.” Nelson said.
Gomez was one of several exceptional defenders on the squad. “Alexis’s physical abilities and incredible left foot allowed us to get away with three in the back to generate more offense, which Alexis himself was capable of doing as well,” Nelson said.
Lopez was a second top defender. “Andrew was the most physically gifted player on the team,” Nelson said. “Andrew was our insurance card in it the back and our voice on the field.”
Tucker was the team’s silent brick wall. “Easily one of, if not, the smartest and most humble player on the field,” Nelson said. “Tucker’s versatility contributed to the three defender formation while still generating offense from the back.”
Reyes was given the difficult task of replacing Campbell at striker when he was injured. “Eduardo served the team as an outside fullback, but was great at generating offense, so we made the switch when Robbie went down and the offense didn’t let up with Eduardo filling in up top.” Nelson said.
Going undefeated was clearly the highlight of the season. “The player didn’t lose sight of the prize even after beating up on a lot of teams,” Nelson said. “They never underestimated their opponent, which is a rare quality in middle school athletes.”
Despite being able to boast a 10-0 mark, the team had its struggles at times, “but overall got the job done when the pressure was on,” Nelson said. “This was definitely one of the most diverse groups in terms of personality that I’ve had the pleasure to coach. I look forward to seeing the eighth graders next year playing for the school team.”
Finley is losing many talented eighth graders, who will be moving up to the high school level, but some exceptionally skilled seventh graders will be coming back hungry for another perfect campaign, including Edwin Arvelo, who with six goals provided a glimpse of what he can do on a soccer field.