Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Targeting Some Bigger Goals

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Targeting Some Bigger Goals

Article excerpt

Passaic has had its ups and downs on the pitch in recent years, but Saturday was definitely a major highlight moment for the Indians. And that big 1-0 Passaic County tournament second-round victory over Pompton Lakes could mean even bigger and better things ahead for coach Vince Fazio's team the rest of October.

Senior attacking midfielder Diego Ruiz's goal in the sixth minute off an assist from senior outside midfielder Aldaris Velasquez sent the seventh-seeded Indians into the quarterfinals for the third time in Fazio's 10 years at the helm. In the history of the PCT that dates to 1972, Passaic has never won the championship, getting to the final in 1975 and '87.

"The key with us is this year we have a solid commitment to practice and to persevere," Fazio said. "Last year we were more talented, but this year we are working harder and that is a major difference and a big factor in our success so far."

Junior goalkeeper Oscar Martinez, who had seven saves in the hard- earned triumph over the 10th-seeded Cardinals, has three shutouts - and he was the fourth-string netminder when camp began in August. A couple of injuries and an ineligibility case thrust the 5-foot-7 Martinez into the spotlight - and he has thrived in that role.

When the year began, defense was a question mark, with the graduation of reliable fullback fixtures Fernandco Calixto (second team All-Passaic), George Flores and Luigi Ramos.

But anchoring a strong back line corps this season are senior central back Saul Linares, junior Michael Tepale and senior Rafael Enriquez. A strong midfield is keyed by junior Jeff Tepale and sophomore Jason Tlatelpa.

Passaic is off to a 5-6-1 start this season, following a 6-1 loss to Bergen Catholic, the No. 1 team in The Record Top 25, on Tuesday in a Big North interdivisional game. The Indians play at second- seeded Hawthorne Christian, a team they have not beaten in at least six years, Saturday in the quarterfinals. A year ago, Passaic went 8- 8-1 and just failed to qualify in North 1, Group 4 when it fell to Hawthorne Christian, 3-2, in overtime on the state cutoff date. This year, the Indians believe they have a real opportunity to earn a slot in the state sectionals.

When Fazio came to Passaic, the Indians were mired in a downward cycle, but in his first year (2006), they broke a 32-game losing streak with a 2-0 NNJIL win over Barringer. …

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