Six former players, a beloved and revolutionary administrator and the New York Arrows will be honored by the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame on Saturday, February 26.
Doc Lawson, Peter Jianette, Nicky Megaloudis, John Lignos, Jean Varas and Mary Theresa Varas will be inducted into the room during public ceremonies at the Huntington Hilton in Melville, NY that evening.
Peter Collins, the late President of the Long Island Junior Soccer League, will be honored and recognized with the Paul LeSueur Ambassador of the Game Award.
The hall will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the New York Arrows, who won their fourth and final Major Indoor Soccer League championship in 1982.
“The Class of 2022 is an extraordinary example of Long Island’s incredibly rich football history,” said LISPHOF founder Kevin L. McCrudden. “In the early days of men’s and women’s soccer in America, you can find the footprints of some of America’s greatest and most influential players on Long Island. No matter one of the most influential people in soccer history American Mr. Peter Collins Truly one of the “founding fathers” of youth football on Long Island and in America.
The award’s namesake, LeSueur, a former New York Cosmos player, was an outstanding member of the Nassau County, Garden City, NY and Long Island football communities. He was a peer of Collins in many ways.
Collins was president of the LIJSL from 1977 to 2004, as he grew the youth soccer league from a small community organization to one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the world. Collins, considered by many to be “the father of Long Island football,” died at age 87 in 2018.
New York Arrows
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Arrows’ fourth title. While the New York Islanders were busy winning four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1979 to 1983 at the Nassau Coliseum, the Arrows competed in the same arena, making history themselves.
Some of the stars of this Arrows team will be present for the event. Lawson, Jianette, and Megaloudis were members of this team along with LISPHOF members Shep Messing and Ronnie Antanasio.
“The Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame not only represents world-class athletes, but also world-class human beings,” said LISPHOF Executive Director Jim Kilmeade. “On behalf of our Board of Directors, we look forward to hearing about their individual life stories and are honored to induct this distinguished Class of 2022. These seven individuals have collectively inspired and influenced the lives of thousands of young footballers, coaches and fans. across Long Island and the country. We look forward to celebrating the 1981-82 National Champion – NY Arrows and the careers of Doc Lawson, Peter Jianette, Mary Theresa Varas, Jean Varas, Nick Megaloudis John Lignos and the man to the pinnacle of sport on Long Island, Mr. Peter Collins.”
The six inductees
Lawson was one of the Arrows’ most famous players. He was also a member of the Dallas Sidekicks, MISL champions in 1987, and a seven-time MISL All-Star. He was a member of the 1980 US Olympic team, which did not participate in the Moscow Games due to a boycott, the US men’s national team (three caps). Lawson also won bronze at the 1989 World Indoor Soccer Championships and was a three-time All American at Southern Connecticut State University.
Hailing from Liberia, Lawson probably achieved more after his playing career. He was a board member of US Soccer, US Soccer Foundation; American Football Cross-Cultural Committee, 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee and American Football Olympic Representative. He is a missionary in Liberia, where he has brought water, built schools and played football.
Jianette, a high school phenom, was drafted as a first-round territorial pick by the Arrows in 1980 and was a third-round pick by the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League draft. He signed with the Arrows in December 1980 during his senior year at Hicksville High School, where he recorded 67 goals and 27 assists in 65 games.
On February 10, 1982, he made his professional debut and tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Jianette spent three years with the club before signing with Phoenix Pride (MISL). He played 34 games during the 1983-84 season with Phoenix before re-injuring his right knee. In 1981, Jianette participated in the FIFA Youth World Cup. In 1985, he played for the New York Express in its inaugural season as he led the team in scoring nine goals in six games. He was named MVP of the team’s first match, an 8–5 win over indoor side Arsenal. Jianette, however, tore the MCL and meniscus of the same knee during a game in Dallas on December 12, 1986, ending her professional career.
Jianette has also played for the U.S. National Under-16, Under-17, and Under-20 teams. He has played 31 matches in 14 countries on five continents with 16 full youth international appearances. The Hicksville native also played in 9 international tournaments from 1978 to 1982, highlighted by the 1981 U-20 World Championship in Australia.
Megaloudis has played professionally for the Arrows, as well as the Houston Summit, Las Vegas Americans (MISL), and Houston Hurricane (NASL). He was a well-known soccer figure in the German-American and Greek-American soccer leagues with the famous New York Atlas.
He was also an All-American at Long Island University and a member of the U.S. Youth Men’s National Team and Youth Olympic Team.
Megaloudis also earned his USSF A trainer license in 1993.
His extensive coaching resume ranges from the youth field to Director of Coaching for Pinecrest SC (Miami, Fla.) and Strike Force SC (Miami, Fla.). He has also worked as an ODP staff coach with Region IV, Nevada and Florida.
Megaloudis’ resume also includes coaching in the professional ranks with the Miami Fusion (Major League Soccer) Florida Strikers (United Soccer League.
In 2017, Megaloudis returned to his New York roots and joined the fine team at Manhattan SC, where he works today.
Lignos played briefly with the Arrows, before joining the Express. He continued his indoor playing career with the Louisville Thunder and Canton Invaders where he won the American Indoor Soccer Association Championship. Lignos also played away with the New England Tea Men, who eventually moved to Jacksonville, Florida. He also helped the Tea Men win the American Football League Championship in 1983. He also played with the Fort Lauderdale Sun (United Soccer League).
At age 11, Lignos emigrated to the United States from Chios, Greece. He played his youth football career with Oceanside United and was a three-time All-Nassau County player at Freeport HS. He was also an All American at Ulster Community College where he won two NJCAA championships.
Lignos was also a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team and made an appearance with the USMNT in a 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago on March 21, 1982.
Varas was a two-time All-American at Berner HS in Massapequa, NY. She also helped lay the foundation for the Massapequa Falcons, which won the U.S. National Under-18 Girls Championship in 1986.
She was also a member of the newly formed Region 1 Olympic Development Program teams from 1981 to 1983, which culminated in her selection to the 1983 U.S. National Youth U-18 Team and was among the first young female players. Americans to compete internationally when the team toured Europe.
Varas was a member of Team Long Island’s dominance at the Empire State Games from 1981 to 1985, winning four gold medals and one silver. She attended the University of Central Florida from 1984 to 1987, was selected to the regional All-South team, and was named an All-America in her senior year. Varas appeared twice in the College Cup, scoring 29 goals, good for 11th place on the school’s all-time list.
In 1984, Jean and her sister Mary were featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” for their accomplishments as soccer-playing sisters. The appearance in SI was considered the first published recognition for female soccer players.
Varas competed in three US Olympic festivals, winning gold with the 1985 South team and a silver medal at the 1987 US event.
She competed in the W-League (USL), America’s first national women’s amateur soccer league launched in 1994, before performing with the Orlando Lions and Tampa Bay.
Varas began playing with the Massapequa Thunderbirds in 1975, playing with the Massapequa Express, which won four consecutive Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Region I championships. She also appeared in three consecutive U.S. National Junior Championships , including the first National U-19 Junior Championship in 1980.
Varas attended Berner HS from 1977 to 1981, where she led the team to Nassau County and Long Island titles. She was named All-American in her senior season.
She captained the Long Island team, which dominated the Empire State Games for seven years (1979-85), winning five gold medals and two silver medals.
Varas attended UCF. As a freshman, she led the team to the Women’s National Championship, which was governed by the now defunct Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and was named National Tournament MVP. The following year, she led UCF to the first NCAA Championship Game, UCF’s best finish in history. Despite losing in the final, Varas was named the tournament’s best attacking player. She concluded her senior season with another NCAA Tournament berth, making it three of her four-year career. Varas’ honors included being an All-American in 1983 and being named UCF MVP for three years until she was passed over by the future U.S. Women’s National Team legend. , Michelle Akers.
In 1984, Mary Theresa and Jean were featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd.”
There were few playing opportunities after college for women in 1985, but Varas played in three successive U.S. Olympic festivals, winning gold in 1985 and silver in 1987. Her Orlando Caliber Comets teams also competed in the United States Women’s National Amateur Cup, reaching the 1994 national championship. semi-finals.