Mr. November: Nikic kicks Beacon to boys soccer crown
By ZACH BRAZILLER
November 17, 2010
ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Joseph Nikic had his sights set on a breakout senior year, building on his sensational junior season. When that didn’t happen, when the goals (nine) weren’t coming as he had hoped, nor were the assists (seven), and Beacon fell in its bi-yearly regular season showdowns with nemesis Martin Luther King Jr., frustration began setting in.
“I encouraged him by saying, ‘Joey, you are creating for everybody else, you’re making everybody else better,’” coach Alec Mahrer recalled. “Sure enough, everybody developed around Joey.”
Indeed, Nikic was the reason fourth-seeded Beacon was able to win its second PSAL Class A boys crown last Sunday, outlasting No. 2 Francis Lewis, 4-3, in penalty kicks after 100 minutes of scoreless soccer.
It was Nikic who ended the penalty kicks by beating Adelphi-bound goalkeeper Chris Herrera under the lights at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University; Nikic who sent No. 1 MLK home in the semifinals in double overtime; and Nikic whose hat trick ended No. 5 John Adams’ year in the quarterfinals.
“This week has been incredible for him and he came through once again,” Beacon fullback Jesse White said Sunday night. “When it comes time … he comes through in the clutch. This week exemplified that – hat trick, game winner, penalty winner.”
When the postseason began, Beacon didn’t know who it could rely on for its scoring punch. Striker Peter Poulos left the team to go back to home Long Island to live with his mother, leaving Nikic all alone up top. Nikic took that responsibility on himself, saying “during the playoffs it was my time to do my part for the team.”
Against Adams, he dug the Blue Demons out a halftime hole, beating standout keeper William Benitez three times, more goals than the Spartans had given up in a game the entire season. Against MLK, in the second overtime, Nikic outworked three Knights fullbacks and beat keeper Moulaye Traore far side from 20 yards out, a moment he said was “indescribable" it was so joyous. Next up was the championship match and the championship-winning penalty kick.
Instead of clearing his mind as he stood over the ball, a championship at his feet, Nikic thoughts about his entire career up to that point. He thought about everything he had been through in his soccer career – the three heartbreaking postseason losses, all the strides he and his teammates have made, on an off the field, what the moment meant.
“This was the last shot of my Beacon career,” he said. “I had to remember everything I’ve been through to get here.”
By the end of the playoffs, Nikic had written himself into Beacon lore, putting his name up there with Pascal Louis and Gaetano Sanchez and Baimba Freeman. In his first four years on the varsity, Nikic was mostly a complement to them; by Sunday night he stood on his own.
“Joe was just amazing,” Mahrer said. “We had the guys around him, everybody stepped up, but Joe was just the man at the right time.”
© By ZACH BRAZILLER | Thursday, Nov 17, 2010 | Photo: Brit Worgan | The NY Post