Asked what 200 career wins means to him, Andrew Sadowski joked that it means he has been around for a long time. But, of course, there is a greater meaning to that milestone for the Southold High School boys soccer coach.
“I think that the significance of 200 wins is I still want to be on the field,” he said. “I still love the game. I still want to be with [the players]. I want to coach them. I want to be better as a coach. I want to keep learning the game more.”
And he wants to keep going.
Sadowski, in his 17th year as a varsity coach, bagged his 200th career win on Tuesday. It came on the road via a 2-0 non-league victory over the host Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms.
When the game ended, Sadowski, standing on the sideline, didn’t show any emotion. He merely looked down at his feet and kicked lightly at the grass. Not much of a reaction, but at least one of Southold’s players, Evan Miller, sensed what the 200 mark meant to his coach.
“I’m sure on the inside he feels very good about getting 200 wins,” Miller, a junior midfielder, said. “It’s very nice to get it when I’m here. It feels good to do it for him.”
With the win, Sadowski upped his career record to 200-89-14 (.660). He has been Southold’s coach for all of those games. He ranks fifth among active Suffolk coaches and is 22nd on the county’s all-time win list.
Sadowski had the entire off-season to think about No. 200 after the First Settlers were ousted by the Port Jefferson Royals in a Suffolk Class C semifinal last year, leaving him stuck at 199. Then, following Southold’s 3-0 season-opening loss to the Southampton Mariners on Saturday night, Sadowski had to wait another three days before he finally joined the exclusive 200 club.
“He has a really, really good system that the kids buy into,” Bayport-Blue Point Coach Jim Moccio said. “It’s a tribute to him. He runs a real nice program. He’s a class guy. His teams are always classy, and he deserves it.”
(An interesting side note: Bayport-Blue Point’s assistant coach, Greg Zaleski, was a goalkeeper for Sadowski).
Sadowski recalls his first career win (a 1-0 defeat of the Riverhead Blue Waves). Of the 200 wins he has chalked up, does he have a favorite?
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a really hard question.”
He certainly has plenty of wins to choose from. There was a penalty-kick triumph in 1999 that brought the First Settlers a Southeast Region title. And then there was the game in 2001 in which Kenny Heidtmann scored in overtime to send Southold into the state final.
“Lots of good stuff,” Sadowski said, “a lot of good wins.”
Tuesday’s wasn’t bad, either. An unassisted goal by sophomore forward Drew Sacher 5 minutes 50 seconds after the opening kickoff and a penalty kick by senior defender Brian Cassidy at 43:49 accounted for all of the scoring. On Sacher’s goal, a clearance attempt failed, the ball fell to Sacher’s feet and he applied the finishing touch on Southold’s first shot of the game.
Bayport-Blue Point (1-1, 0-0 in League VI) had to play a man down for the final 36:11 after its goalkeeper, Connor Ward, received a straight red card for his foul on Miller, which led to Cassidy’s penalty kick. Pat Gerard, a defender, put on a yellow goalkeeper’s jersey and trotted onto the field to face the penalty, which Cassidy blasted under him.
On the play that led to the penalty, Miller ran onto a through ball and directed a shot past the goalie and wide of the left goalpost before being hit in the midsection, flipping over and landing on his lower back. He was shaken up on the play and headed to the sideline before re-entering the game for Muhammet Ilgin with 28:58 to go.
Moccio couldn’t complain about the red card. “The rule’s the rule,” he said. “When you’re the last man, you take somebody out, it’s a red card.”
The Phantoms suffered a potentially bigger loss earlier in the game. Kevin McGrath, a sophomore midfielder who might be the team’s best player, went down screaming in pain in the 22nd minute. He was helped off the field and later carted away with ice on his left ankle. Moccio said the trainer believes McGrath suffered a high ankle sprain.
Just two minutes before the injury, McGrath saw his penalty kick to the low left corner saved by Preston Jolliver (five saves). The penalty was awarded following a foul on Harry Martin.
McGrath’s injury is just more bad news for the Phantoms. They had already entered the game down a starter from the first game when striker Nick Oakley injured his knee in a 1-0 overtime win over the Center Moriches Red Devils.
And now the Phantoms will have to bring a goalkeeper up from the junior varsity team while Young serves a one-game suspension. It’s a tough blow for a team that went 3-9 and scored only seven goals last season, but has hopes for better things to come in 2011.
“Today’s a hard day to assess because I don’t know what we’re going to have tomorrow,” said Moccio.
It was a good early-season test for Southold (1-1, 0-0 League VIII), and certainly a memorable day for Sadowski.
“He’s a very excellent coach,” said Miller, who took a game-high seven shots, completed 18 of 29 passes and had 44 touches. “He knows what he’s talking about … and he’s just always there to push you and make you better.”
Sadowski, who said he enjoys coaching as much as ever, wanted to get the 200th win out of the way early in the season so it wouldn’t be a distraction. He got his wish.
“You work hard and good things happen,” he said. “That’s what I’m taking out of the 200th win. We work hard together as a team, and the wins add up.”