NEW ROCHELLE – Strikers want the glory. It’s in their DNA.
They’re usually the flashy players who get the goals and subsequent headlines, and Harwan Alzuabidi fits the profile. The senior is New Rochelle’s best offensive weapon, but he’s an unknown commodity to most who follow Section 1 soccer because he doesn’t have the eye-popping stats to match many others.
“This is just how our system works,” Alzuabidi said. “But I’m very happy. As long as we win, that’s all that matters.”
Huguenots coach Jarohan Garcia preaches an unselfish style of play, focused on ball movement and not allowing opponents to hone in on one player. But now that the playoffs are here, he’ll take the goals however he can get them.
In Thursday’s Class AA first-round matchup against ninth-seeded Mahopac, Alzuabidi seized his opportunity. He scored both goals in a 2-0 win, sending No. 8 New Rochelle on a trip to No. 1 Mamaroneck for the quarterfinals on Monday.
The Huguenots lost to the Tigers twice during the regular season, but seemed to close the gap. After losing by three goals in their first meeting, the second game was a much closer 1-0 affair.
“We have a lot of depth on our team,” senior goalkeeper Danny Ayala said. “(Alzuabidi) is not the only one that can score. As the stats prove, we have more than 10 players that have scored on our team, so I believe we can beat them. Anything is possible.”
Player of the game: Harwan Alzuabidi, New Rochelle — After scoring in the 13th minute, the senior stepped up to take a free kick in the 70th and buried it to seal the win. He was active and created chances throughout the game.
“I had to step up, and I did what I did,” Alzuabidi said. “I’m very confident. I might be a little cocky sometimes, but I think I’m one of the best strikers in the section.”
Turning point: Alzuabidi gave the Huguenots some early breathing room and the defense was stout throughout the game. They allowed just two shots on goal and never really surrendered a quality scoring chance to the Indians.
“Communication is key for the defense,” Ayala said. “We moved together, we shifted together and we all played as a team. That’s why they got basically no shots.”
Stat line: New Rochelle (9-4-2) — Alzuabidi scored both goals, the first on an assist from Omar Espinoza. Ayala made two saves and the Huguenots took 21 shots. Mahopac (7-8-2) — Harry O’Shea made eight saves and the Indians took four shots.
Quotable: “We have to pick up our intensity if we want to go further,” Alzuabidi said. “We have to be much better. Our intensity has to be through the roof, because high school soccer is mostly about intensity. Whoever has more will win the game.”