Feeling Grand: Diaby’s late goal sends Wolves to first A final

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His patience paid off.

Grand Street’s Ossama Diaby capitalized on a goalie error and catapulted No. 7-seeded Brooklyn team to a thrilling 2–1 victory over No. 3 seed and defending champion Aviation in the Public School Athletic League Class-A boy’s soccer semifinals on Randall’s Island on Nov. 3. Aviation’s goalie Andy Lucero gobbled up Grand Street’s previous four scoring attempts, but Diaby knew he’d eventually commit an error, the sophomore said.

“I knew he was going to make a mistake, so I was standing there as long as I can,” Diaby said. “He dropped the ball, and I took it and scored.”

Lucero lept to pluck a shot out of the air in the game’s 76th minute, but he couldn’t gain full control, and he dropped the ball right in front of Diaby, who had been waiting for just such an opportunity.

The Wolves won the B crown two years ago, and ascending to Class-A victory proves the team is making strides, its coach said.

“To win the B and two years later be at the [A] finals is a big step,” said fourth-year Grand Street coach Johnny Chavez.

Grand Street (13–2–1) drew first blood early when junior Akeil Harper capitalized off a pass in the box and scored from 15 yards out in the ninth minute. Aviation (13–1–1) got even after refs called a foul on Keybi Garcia for taking down Angel Serrano in the box, and Elmir Mackic scored on the ensuring penalty kick to knot things at 1–1 in the 62nd minute. It was the first goal Grand Street allowed in four postseason games this year.

The Wolves didn’t let it get them down, and the team stayed the aggressor the rest of the match. The squad might have scored more if it wasn’t for Lucero, who made a leaping save on a shot by Anthony Herbert, stepped in front of a header by Malik Duba Martinez, and punched a shot by star Briail Wilson George over the crossbar. But Diaby kept the pressure on, and the Wolves got to enjoy the rewards.

Chavez expected nothing less, the skipper said.

“I know what I got when I put him in,” Chavez said. “I have a kid that is hungry for anything.”

The victory doubled as a birthday present for senior defender Jerdeani Johnson, who played on the team that won the B championship. Now Johnson is expecting a bigger prize with teammates that consider one another family, he said.

“This was a phenomenal team we have, all of the guys,” Johnson said. “I can’t explain it. This is my last year, so I’m trying to get this championsh­ip.”

The Wolves face No. 5 Beacon at St. John’s University in the final at 5 pm on Nov. 8.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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