The Westhampton Beach varsity soccer team is inviting the East End community to take part in a soccer game on Wednesday, July 10, in memory of their teammate Juan Cardenas, a 2013 graduate who died during a motorcycle accident last week.
Don O’Brien, who coached Mr. Cardenas for four years, described the 19-year-old Center Moriches resident as a respectful, good-natured player who was very well-loved by his teachers, friends and teammates. He was “the ultimate team player,” Mr. O’Brien said. “Can’t say enough good things about him.”
The game will take place at 6 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach High School off Lilac Road, and all are welcome to join. Mr. O’Brien said Mr. Cardenas’s teammates, alumni and family members will play, along with players from the Hampton Bays varsity soccer team, who were also close with Mr. Cardenas. Players are encouraged to wear a white shirt with the number 10—Mr. Cardenas’s number—on the back. At the end of the game, the players will sign the soccer ball and a jersey and give it to Mr. Cardenas’s family.
The coach explained that he and many members of the Westhampton Beach High School community were unable to attend services that took place over the weekend in Smithtown because information about the services was not available, and he wanted to find a way for them to pay their respects and remember their teammate. He said he is hoping for a large turnout to show Mr. Cardenas’s family how much he was loved.
Angel Saquic, 18, also a 2013 graduate, said he was close friends with Mr. Cardenas, having played soccer and gone to school with him for years. He said he and Mr. Cardenas had a close connection on and off the soccer field, and he will remember him as a happy person, who always had a smile on his face.
Mr. O’Brien explained that Mr. Cardenas tore ligaments in his knee halfway through the fall 2012 season, but had he finished, he would have been an All-County player. “That was the beginning of the end of our season—that’s how important he was to our team,” the coach said, of the injury. “He lived for soccer and his teammates.”
Southampton Town Police said that on July 1 at about 10 p.m., motorists on Montauk Highway in Shinnecock Hills reported a downed motorcycle with no driver, and when police arrived, they had located Mr. Cardenas. He was transported by Southampton Volunteer Ambulance to Southampton Hospital, and then to Stony Brook University Hospital for further medical attention. Police said Mr. Cardenas struck a guard rail and utility pole, although they were still investigating the cause of the accident and had no further details.