By Bill Landon
All the Huntington boys soccer team needed to do was change its offensive strategy after a scoreless first 40 minutes of play to top Copiague, 2-0, on the road Sept. 26, to remain undefeated in League III.
“You know this is a really good league, and quite honestly, we’ve been lucky in some instances,” Huntington head coach John Pagano said. “We’ve had close games, one-goal games, and any game, even against a team like Copiague [that hasn’t won yet] but are well-coached, we know that we could’ve fallen.”
Copiague spent most of the first half up field, pressing but managing just two shots on goal. Huntington senior goalkeeper Nat Amato was up for the challenge, and made a pair of pedestrian saves to keep Copiague off the board.
Copiague’s goalkeeper returned the favor on the other side, stopping Freddy Amador’s shot after the senior midfielder slipped past a defender on a pass from the middle and fired a shot to the left corner.
Luis Ortiz broke the ice for the Blue Devils in the second half, scoring off a pass from the crowd in front of the Copiague cage at the 29-minute mark. The score changed the tempo of the second half, and Huntington took advantage — spreading out the offense to look for cross opportunities.
“We pressed more in the second half,” Pagano said. “[Copiague was] laying back with an extra defender, and that made it difficult for us. Once we shifted and stretched them out a little bit it gave us a little bit more passing and running space.”
Opportunity found sophomore forward Carlos Reyes soon after, when he drove in a rebound shot for insurance just over five minutes later.
“It began with the defense and it built from there,” Reyes said of the play. “I thought he was going to cross it in from the far, post but once I saw it start to curve in and then it got past the defender, I was able to get it.”
With the win, Huntington improves to 6-0. Five of the Blue Devil’s wins were one-goal games.
“Our strikers are really fast,” Amador said. “[Copiague is] a really good team. They played really hard for every 50-50 ball, so we have to step up and play hard in every game.”
Huntington is back in action Sept. 28 when the team travels to Smithtown West (4-2) for a 4:30 p.m. game.