Bektosh Ayoob spent much of last year under the wing of Jason Chen, the second All-American in Cardozo lacrosse history.
Ayoob listened, learned and this year has taken over the role as the Judges top midfield threat.
“I knew eventually my time was going to come,” Ayoob said. “I know it’s my lead goal as one of the players coming back to help out the younger kids, help them learn to get them where I was and where I will be.”
Ayoob certainly led by example Wednesday as the four-year starter had five goals and three assists to pace the undefeated Judges in a 17-5 win against Hunter College HS in Bayside, Queens.
“He has a tremendous amount of heart, physical, he’s a true midfielder so he’ll take control of the ball on offense and he’ll get himself to drive the cage,” Cardozo coach Chris Milani said. “He helps out tremendously in transition and in addition, when he needs to, he’s that guy getting that loose ball.”
Ayoob, who had 30 goals and 11 assists a year ago, already has 18 goals in three wins. He’s now the lead scorer and Jensan Liu is playing the complimentary role as Ayoob did with Chen last year.
“Now that Jason has graduated, he’s picked up those shoes, put them on and ran with it,” Milani said of Ayoob. “Jensan has picked up where Bektosh left off and they’re keeping that one-two punch, working off each other, feeding off each other pretty nicely.”
After just one goal and one assists in Cardozo’s first two league games, Liu exploded for four goals against a Hunter College HS team without starting goalie Jonathan Ortiz, who suffered a finger injury in a season-opening loss against Tottenville.
“He’s now built up that confidence to make himself the No. 2 guy, like how Jason and Bektosh were last year,” Milani said. “We’re hoping it can be Bektosh and Jensan this year.”
Ayoob didn’t start playing lacrosse until he arrived at Cardozo. He watched his sister Nilab play for the Judges and it piqued his interest.
“I saw the aggressiveness and I love to be aggressive, love playing sports,” he said. “My sister played here for three years. She’d come home from practice beat and I wanted to know how that felt.”
Now Ayoob is hoping to follow in Chen’s footsteps by becoming the school’s third All-American. But it’s not the co-captain’s ultimate goal.
“It’s on the back of my mind and it would be a great opportunity to win an All-American award, but the team comes first and the championship is my goal,” he said. “That’s it, to make it there and win it.”
So far, so good for Cardozo (3-0), which also received two goals apiece from Ryan Mook, Justin Dong and Hyun Kang and one each from Brian Yap against Hunter College HS (0-4), which was led by Lucas Zheng (two goals) and Nick Mietkowski, Eric Lippin and Sam Williams.
It was a lopsided victory, but not one the Judges celebrated much afterward.
“It’s wins, but it’s sloppy,” Liu said. “In the first half, we weren’t playing lacrosse. We were missing open men and we were just taking shots. We have to learn to look for each other better and play lacrosse.”
The goal of being undefeated in March has been achieved. Now it’s mid-term time with PSAL powerhouses Tottenville and Midwood coming to Cardozo next week.
“Next week is a nice test for us,” Milani said. “We’ll see where we’re at. Hopefully we’ll pass the test.”
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler