Hat trick gives Blue Devils a victory over defender soccer champs

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Nick Safian recorded a hat trick that served up a measure of revenge for Poly Prep on Friday afternoon as the Blue Devils took a 3–1 win over hosting soccer opponents Horace Mann in the Bronx.

Horace Mann’s Lions, the defending Ivy League champions, handed Poly Prep a 2–0 defeat earlier this season. But Blue Devils’ players say that yesterday’s win — Poly’s seventh straight victory — proves that the Bay Ridge squad belongs among the city’s elite boys soccer teams.

“This is huge,” said Safian. “We just took on one of the top two teams and knocked them off.”

Safian’s big day came as Poly Prep (6–2–0) coach Jerry Stone kept more players on the defensive in an attempt to stifle Horace Mann’s attacks. Safian was the team’s loan forward.

“We were using one forward because we knew we needed to do a lot of defending,” Stone said. “But we found him pretty often.”

The action started early with Safian deflecting a keeper’s kick, sending the ball rolling into the corner of the net and giving Poly Prep a 1–0 lead 27 minutes into the game.

But things got worse before they got better: Horace Mann (also 6–2–0) provided the equalizer when a throw in was flicked off Lion Andrew Silberstein’s head in the 55th minute to make it 1–1.

Safian made sure the tie didn’t last long. Four minutes later, he shed two defenders on a run down the left side and made a right-footed shot into the bottom near post to give Poly a 2–1 lead.

He provided the exclamation point in the last minute when Safian again broke through the defense and, with the keeper rushing forward, chipped the ball in from 25 yards out to complete a win that had Stone cheering.

“We’ve been building, getting better and better,” Stone said. “We were sort of due.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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