By Bill Landon
Huntington’s Freddy Amador led the way for the Blue Devils Tuesday afternoon with a hat-trick performance that helped his team shut out visiting Northport, 6-0, in the final nonleague game of the season before both teams’ league openers today, Thursday.
The junior midfielder hit the net first off an assist from senior midfielder Kevin Gulizio three minutes into the contest, and the duo paired up again six minutes later but this time Amador fed Gulizio for the 2-0 lead.
“The weather was a factor, it helped us,” Gulizio said. “We played hard, we came out strong and we finished well, but the key was how we started the first 10 minutes of the game.”
With rain that came down in sheets, along with gusty winds, the conditions on the field proved challenging for both teams. Throw-ins from the sideline blew out of bounds, long kicks stalled in the wind and both teams had trouble finding the net for much of the first half.
Despite the weather, Huntington head coach John Pagano expected it to be a tough matchup.
“We knocked them out of the quarterfinals in the playoffs last year, so we figured it would be a tough game,” he said. “But in fairness to Northport, everybody’s trying to see what they have, so you’re mixing and matching and you coach it a little different than you would in a league game.”
Gulizio’s foot gave his team a three-goal lead as the co-captain’s solo shot found the upper left corner of the goal less than 10 minutes into the second half.
Northport struggled to clear the ball and spent little time near Huntington’s goalkeeper, as the Blue Devils amped up the pressure.
“We didn’t come out here expecting to win 6-0,” Gulizio said. “We expected a hard game — they’re a good team — but we got some early goals and that made it hard for them the rest of the game.”
Huntington sophomore defender Edwin Garcia answered next off a cross from senior co-captain and defender Matt Gelb, to extend the Blue Devils’ advantage to 4-0 lead with 26 minutes left in the game.
Amador drilled a shot unassisted past the keeper for his second goal of the evening, and then scored his hat-trick goal to put the game out of reach.
Unable to score a goal, Northport head coach Don Strasser wasn’t impressed by what he saw of his team.
“We just did not play our best soccer,” he said. “We had an off day — it’s the first time we’ve played on turf this season, but you don’t want to make excuses. And that’s what’s nice about nonleague games, you find your kinks, find what didn’t go right and you try to fix them for the league opener.”
Huntington senior co-captain Mark Rafuse, a defender, said he was surprised by the margin of victory.
“They’re a good team and they came out strong, but they didn’t have a set goalie,” the sweeper said. “So they struggled at that position,” which the Tigers capitalized on.
Northport will travel to Connetquot today, Thursday, for a 4:30 p.m. matchup, and Huntington will host North Babylon at 4 p.m.