Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Neto, Red Raiders Enjoying Run

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Neto, Red Raiders Enjoying Run

Article excerpt

DEMAREST - Cliffside Park senior Orlando Neto brings a slice of The Beautiful Game to the pitch.

The Brazilian-born Neto plays with a grace and style unique to the fields of North Jersey honed since he was 7 years old learning ball skills with his cousins.

The 5-foot-10 (maybe add an inch or two with his Mohawk haircut), 140-pounder with 32-inch legs carries himself like a special athlete. He doesn't run so much as he glides. He pivots at the waist to create separation between him and his opponents. Defenders don't know whether to come at him or stand back and watch.

"The stuff he does with the ball," said Red Raiders coach Jim Fucci, briefly pondering the thought. "You just want to let him play."

"I enjoy everything about soccer," said Neto. "To me, it's the most beautiful sport in the world. If you are down 2-0, like we were to Tenafly in the quarterfinals, you can still win. You just have to work hard."

Neto had the Red Raiders' final goal in their 3-0 win over valiant Bergenfield in the Bergen County tournament semifinals Sunday, a nifty step through, pass back to himself and rocket that should make "SportsCenter." His impact on the game was more than that one display, however. His every move was shadowed. When he turned to face the Bears' defense, the defenders collapsed on him.

Still with all of that pressure on him, he didn't disappoint, helping the Red Raiders to their first county final since 2007 and forcing Fucci to buy a new razor.

About that last part, Fucci has one of the thickest set of whiskers south of the Red Sox, but he will be clean shaven soon -- and maybe in drag.

"This is the deal, if we won today, I shaved, if we win the final I go to school for two days in a dress," said Fucci. "We just talked about it though. The team is superstitious. I'm superstitious. I will shave after the final regardless of a win. …

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