By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 19, 2017-Some people go through life connected to one another. After all, where would Batman be without Robin, Abbott without Costello, Laurel without Hardy, Baskin without Robbins, Wells without Fargo and Bonnie without Clyde? And on the soccer fields of both Long Island and Rhode Island, Mark Jecewiz and Brendan Reardon will be forever linked.
They grew up three miles from one another with Mark living in Smithtown and Brendan living in Nesconset and first met in pre-school at St. Patrick’s School in Smithtown. That was about the same time that they started playing together as Under-4 players in the Village of the Branch (VOB) Soccer Club. Both of them progressed to travel team soccer with the VOB Arsenal, one of the best Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) teams a decade ago and winners of many tournament championships.
“That team was special because most of us went to the same elementary and middle school together,“ Brendan stated. “It was a close and tight knit group.“
As Mark and Brendan completed their youth soccer career, they also had some nice success with the LIJSL’s Lake Grove United as their VOB and Lake Grove teams were two of the best sides in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA). Both studied at St. Patrick’s School for a decade, then moved on to St. Anthony’s High School. As varsity soccer players, they won two regular season championships for the Friars and were undefeated at home. They were two of the three Catholic high school players named to the 2012 Newsday All-Long Island team and both were also honored as All-State.
“Mark will always be the All-American young man for me on and off the pitch. A quiet leader who has always let his performance, judgment and values do his talking,” commented St. Anthony’s High School coach Don Corrao. “Mark set the example at St. Anthony's for the next couple of state championship teams as he was one of the smartest and most instinctively solid defenders we've ever had here.“
“Brendan was a terrific offensive player for us who led the league in scoring his senior year. He has an extraordinary work rate and just keeps coming at you on the pitch. He's worked very hard for what he has achieved,“ stated Coach Corrao.
Then Mark and Brendan became separated with Mark going to Providence College and Brendan at Iona College.
“After St Anthony’s, I committed to play for Iona. I red-shirted my first year there and then had a great two years after that with a lot of wins and success on the field,“ Brendan explained. “Last winter, there were many changes at Iona, including changes to the school and coaching staff. I simply felt that it wasn't the best place for me anymore and decided to transfer. Providence was one of the schools interested and I knew Mark loved it there. Plus my older brother graduated from Providence in 2015. It turned out to be a great fit as Providence is great both academically and athletically and then add in I would be playing with my best friend once again, it seemed like something too good to pass up.“
Kevin Reilly photo of Brendan Reardon #23 and Mark Jecewiz #15 in the NCAA playoffs
So after being successful with the St. Anthony’s Friars, the pair, now college roommates, had an excellent season this past fall with the Providence Friars. With Mark as starting central defender and Brendan as starting outside midfielder, Providence won the school’s first regular season Big East title. In the NCAA playoffs, they defeated Colonial Athletic Association champs Delaware, 2-0, in the first round. They took on #1 seed and undefeated Maryland in the second round, falling behind 4-1 before scoring four goals in 13 minutes in an epic comeback to stun the Terrapins, 5-4.
“We walked into the locker room, everybody’s phone was blowing up with text messages from old players, people at the school and friends,“ Mark said after the game. “It was really nice. It’s a great feeling, all the support, we’re just so happy that we could get this win!“
In the third round, Providence topped Creighton, 2-1, before falling to the University of North Carolina, 1-0, in the second overtime in the quarterfinals. But these close friends have one more year together at Providence to look forward to.
“Mark has had an incredible collegiate career at Providence College and I would not be surprised if he is invited to play at the next level. Brendan's abilities were first recognized by Iona College before he made a move to Providence College last year and well, you know how great that turned out. We could not be more proud of them than we are,“ concluded Coach Corrao.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log onto http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.