Jacobson: King will rise
Kerfalla Sylla has known nothing but winning since joining mighty Martin Luther King. In fact, the Knights won 26 straight matches en route to a 13th PSAL title in November and a No. 2 national ranking.
But on Tuesday afternoon, MLK saw its streak snapped, losing 2-0 to perennial Long Island powerhouse St. Anthony’s at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University.
“I don’t like losing,” Sylla said. “I feel bad. We played good. I don’t know what we did bad. There’s no way they’re better than us. Things happen in soccer.”
What happened was actually simple. The Friars finished two first-half chances and MLK (7-1-0), ranked No. 1 in New York City by MSG Varsity for 13 straight months, failed to capitalize on its opportunities in the attacking third.
“We played well, we played good soccer,” MLK coach Marty Jacobson said. “We just needed to put a few goals in right away and we just didn’t. We had our chances. They capitalized on a few of the chances they had. They only had three or four, but two of them went in.”
Indeed, one minute after Brendan Reardon chipped Gabriel Yalley to put St. Anthony’s (5-0-1), ranked No. 5 on Long Island by MSG Varsity, in front 1-0 with his fourth goal of the year, Amara Sesay saw his chance parried away by goalkeeper Conor McElhinney.
In the 19th minute, Sylla danced around a defender and into the box, but fired well over the net. Nine minutes later, McElhinney dived to his right to push away Mouhamod Keita’s low shot from 20 yards out.
MLK did well possessing the ball, but the Knights found themselves with a two-goal deficit after Joe Busuttil put away a chance in front of goal in the 36th minute.
“We can play beautiful soccer, but we have to get the result of beautiful soccer and we didn’t quite get that this game,” Jacobson said. “We had possession. We needed to capitalize a little more. Hopefully these guys learn from that.”
How will MLK handle the adversity of losing a game? Jacobson, for one, is intrigued.
“This is a test right here,” he said. “Where are they going to put their heads? Are we going to be able to rebound?”
Although their winning streak that dated back to Nov. 2010 is now history, Jacobson is confident his team can make history this November by winning a 14th PSAL title.
That goal doesn’t change despite a disappointing, and rare, loss.
“It’s been a nice streak,  in a row and we’ll just start another streak,” Jacobson said. “We have one goal and that’s to win a city championship… I guarantee we’ll make our run. Right to the top.”