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Boys’ Soccer

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Patchogue-Medford hosted the Ward Melville Patriots Sept. 1 in a nonleague game. The Patriots beat out the Raiders, 3–0.

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By Bill Landon

East Islip’s boys soccer team traveled to Shoreham-Wading River Sept. 1 and defeated the Wildcats 1-0.

Huntington's co-captains Carlos Rivera, Wilber Parada and Olvin Palma set up a play during the Blue Devils' 1-0 Class AA quarterfinal loss to Brentwood on Nov. 2. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Huntington's Jayvin Coto leaps up to head the ball in the No. 4-ranked Blue Devils' 1-0 loss to No. 1 Brentwood in the quarterfinal round of the Class AA playoffs on Nov. 2. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Huntington’s Jayvin Coto leaps up to head the ball in the No. 4-ranked Blue Devils’ 1-0 loss to No. 1 Brentwood in the quarterfinal round of the Class AA playoffs on Nov. 2. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Huntington had several strategies to score a goal, but none of them paid off on Monday. The Blue Devils had difficulty getting shots early and often enough, and the No. 4-seeded boys’ soccer team fell to No. 1 Brentwood, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the Class AA playoffs.

“They played hard,” Huntington head coach John Pagano said of his team. “They played with the No. 2 team in the state and the difference was one shot.”

Blue Devils sophomore goalkeeper Nat Amato made most of his seven saves in the first half to keep the teams in a stalemate heading into halftime, but Brentwood only needed to make two stops on their end to record the Indians’ 14th shutout of the season.

With 16 minutes remaining in the game, Brentwood scored off a through ball. With the Indians forward in the corner, Amato came to the right side of the box and a Huntington defender dove but missed redirecting the ball. The Brentwood player then crossed it between Amato and another Huntington defender, who was guarding the opposite corner of the net, to break the draw.

Huntington's Marlon Licona regains possession of the ball in the Blue Devils' zone during the team's 1-0 Class AA semifinal loss to Brentwood on Nov. 2. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Huntington’s Marlon Licona regains possession of the ball in the Blue Devils’ zone during the team’s 1-0 Class AA semifinal loss to Brentwood on Nov. 2. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In the last 10 minutes, the Blue Devils continued to pressure and push into the Indians’ zone, leaving it all out on the field, but they couldn’t get a good attempt at a goal.

With 5:20 remaining, senior midfielder and co-captain Wilber Parada rushed the ball from the corner to the box, but no one could knock it in — it floated across the front of the net.

“There was no quit,” Pagano said. “They played until the last whistle. We had several scoring chances at the end and the game could’ve easily gone either way. I’m very proud of them.”

Huntington ended the season with a 15-2-2 overall record and a 10-2-2 mark in League III. The Blue Devils will graduate 18 seniors from the roster at the end of this school year, including co-captains Carlos Rivera, a forward, and Olvin Palma, a midfielder.

“It’s been gratifying,” Pagano said of coaching his departing leaders. “It was a pleasure coaching these boys, but it’s going to be sad to see them leave.”

Drops Centereach, 4-1, in enemy territory

Huntington junior defender Mark Rafuse heads the ball away from the net. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

We’ll be seeing the Huntington Blue Devils this postseason.

With a 4-1 win over Centereach Tuesday, the Huntington boys’ soccer team sealed its fate as the team moved to 7-1-1 in League II, guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs.

Huntington senior forward Carlos Rivera stops the ball to change direction. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Huntington senior forward Carlos Rivera stops the ball to change direction. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Clinching playoffs is nice,” Huntington head coach John Pagano said. “The score makes it look as if we won by a big margin, but I still don’t feel we played the way I think we could.”

Huntington senior forward and co-captain Carlos Rivera put the first point on the scoreboard after taking a short pass off a corner kick and up to goal and shooting the ball into the right corner of the net.

With 5:02 remaining in the first half, senior midfielder and co-captain Wilber Parada scored on the inside left corner off a serve into the box from the right side, for the 2-0 point advantage.

Centereach wouldn’t go down quietly though, and with 1:30 left in the half, junior forward Elmer Alfaro scored on a straight shot up the center, to cut Huntington’s lead, 2-1.

“They played hard,” Centereach head coach Jon Galfano said of his Cougars. “There were a couple of mistakes on the field, but you have to give Huntington credit, too. They set up some beautiful plays.”

Centereach opened the second half with several attempts, but it was Huntington’s Rivera who scored the next goal, off another short pass off the corner kick.

“I have to be proud of my guys, because they never give up, they never quit,” Galfano said. “As a coach, especially at the high school level, that’s all you can hope for, because the kids keep fighting.”

The game grew physical between the two teams, and Pagano said he was pleased with how his team handled the situation.

Centereach defender and co-captain Nick Gennardo tries to get the ball out of Cougars territory. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Centereach defender Nick Gennardo tries to get the ball out of Cougars territory. Huntington midfielder Wilber Parada fights him. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“The game got very physical and actually could have gotten out of hand, but my guys were able to keep their composure,” Pagano said. “They realized the importance of all of these games down the stretch and how we can’t afford to have a player thrown out because of a fit of anger, so I liked that, and our finishing was good. We scored four good goals.”

Centereach junior goalkeeper Jared Steiger made several diving saves to keep the score close, but with the net being pounded, seven saves were not enough.

“I felt good,” Steiger said of his work between the pipes. “There were a few I think I could’ve got, though. As a team, I think we played alright, but we could’ve played better. I think we need to control the middle of the field better.”

With 10:35 left to play, Huntington senior midfielder and co-captain Olvin Palma scored after rocketing a shot on net from nearly 30 yards out, which surprised Centereach’s defense, leaving it with little time to react.

On the opposite side of the field, sophomore goalkeeper Nat Amato, who is in his first year with the team, made some key saves. He made a total of five.

“I felt pretty confident,” he said of being in net, adding that the players have been warm and welcoming to the new addition. “This team has great chemistry, since they’ve all been playing together since they were young. It’s a great team.”

While the Blue Devils are excited for another postseason appearance, the team’s main goal is having a home playoff game.

“We haven’t had a home playoff game in a real long time,” Pagano said. “I think we’re on track to do it. This is a really, really good group of kids, and as you continue to win games, you start to think that maybe a county final run isn’t out of the question. So right now, the way we’re playing, I think we have as good a shot as anybody.”

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Mount Siani senior midfielder Chris Marrs squeezes between Miller Place senior midfielders Daniel Meneses and Carter Contreras to gain possession of the ball in the Panthers' 2-0 blanking of the Mustangs on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

The Miller Place boys’ soccer team had yet to allow an opponent to score at home all season, and continued that streak with a 2-0 blanking of Mount Sinai on Monday.

The victories were not only a result of the team’s strong defensive line, but also because of the efforts of senior forward John Murphy, who scored at least one goal in all three of the team’s home clean sheets.

Miller Place senior forward John Murphy dribbles the ball downfield in the Panthers' 2-0 win over Mount Sinai on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place senior forward John Murphy dribbles the ball downfield in the Panthers’ 2-0 win over Mount Sinai on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place started off with two quick opportunities at a goal, but one hit off of the far left post and the other went through the field goal post above the net, and Murphy saw two of his own opportunities thereafter that just went wide. Despite a 0-0 score at the end of the first half, the Panthers were still able to get the job done in the second.

“We saw the game out,” Miller Place first-year head coach Kenny Lake said. “One of the biggest things we’ve been focusing on is shutouts more than anything else, and making sure we’re not giving up any cheap goals. We’ve kind of eliminated that since the beginning of the season, so I thought they did a great job.”

With 26:04 left to play in the game, senior defender Alex Moschella dribbled the ball all the way down the right sideline from Miller Place to Mustangs territory, and crossed the ball in front of the net to Murphy, who knocked it in for the team’s first point on the board.

“It felt good,” Murphy said of the goal. “Especially when I got the ball and went down the line; beat out the whole defense.”

Less than two minutes later, Moschella did it again, but this time, the cross opportunity was initially missed. And although a shot on goal was made, it went off of the top crossbar. A rebound was attempted, and Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen was able to come up with the save, but couldn’t maintain possession of the ball. After it bounced out of his hands and rolled out in front, the Panthers found themselves with another opportunity at a goal, and Miller Place senior midfielder Daniel Meneses rocketed the ball just left of a diving Jensen.

Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen punts the ball into play in the Mustangs' 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen punts the ball into play in the Mustangs’ 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“They played tough,” Mount Sinai head coach Dave Herrschaft said of his team. “Definitely, they had a great first half, and then let up two in the second half and it was tough for them to really bounce back after that. I think they played a solid game. Offensively, they’ve got to get a little more creative and start finishing.”

With the win, Miller Place improved to 5-2-1 in League VI, while Mount Sinai dropped to 1-6-1.

While Lake is in his first year with the program, his team is already on pace to surpass the feats the team has been able to achieve over the last few years.

“They were business from day one — I didn’t have to do a whole lot of changing,” Lake said of his initial encounters with the team. “They came in as disciplined soccer players and that’s something that has been a pleasure. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids — mature, well-mannered, hard-working; they’ve given me everything they have to give.”

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Comsewogue players Trevor Kennedy and Mike Stiles swarm around a Rocky Point player in a game last season. File photo by Desirée Keegan

By Clayton Collier

As the Comsewogue boys’ soccer team gears up for another season, they welcome a crop of new faces, headlined by a new head coach.

The reigning league champion Warriors have hired longtime Westhampton Beach varsity coach Don O’Brien to take over the program following the retirement of the now former head coach Dan Costello.

Comsewogue's Jake Muller heads the ball. File photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Jake Muller heads the ball. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Comsewogue athletic director Matteo DeVincenzo said O’Brien was brought in because of his experience and track record for success. DeVincenzo said his expectations for the soccer program remain the same despite the coaching change.

“Our boys’ soccer teams always play hard and I expect this year to be no different,” he said.

Trevor Kennedy, an All-League defender, said the team had made a smooth transition with their new coach.

“Coach O’Brien has been a great fit,” he said. “Coach Costello picked him out, so I knew he was going to be a good. The whole team gets along with him and he wants to win, just like the rest of us.”

O’Brien, who coached against Comsewogue for more than two decades, said the environment has been positive in his first summer with the Warriors thus far.

“The kids have been awesome,” he said. “We worked together all summer, so I knew most of them. The kids have been very polite, they’re hardworking; they’re great.”

O’Brien is joined by first-year assistant Will Casey, an All-State player at Ward Melville, who went on to play soccer at Stony Brook University.

In addition to a new coaching staff, the Warriors also have the challenge of replacing a talented core lost to graduation. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the loss of forward James Thristino, who will play for Adelphi University this fall. Thristino finished his high school career third all-time in Suffolk County history with 78 goals, 41 of them coming in his senior year.

Returning for Comsewogue, however, will be All-County center midfielder Jimmy Contino. Finishing last season with 14 goals and 19 assists, Contino will be looked to as a primary offensive force for the Warriors.

“He’s one of the best players I’ve coached in a long time,” O’Brien said of Contino. “It’s not too often you get a junior All-County player unless they’re extremely special; and he is special.”

Comsewogue's Jimmy Contino holds back a Rocky Point player as he gains possession of the ball. File photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Jimmy Contino holds back a Rocky Point player as he gains possession of the ball. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Unlike last year, O’Brien said there will be a number of his players looking to score.

“I have six capable goal scorers, which is more dangerous than one,” he said. “I think the kids are ready, and they’re good enough to win.”

O’Brien said having multiple scoring options will relieve some of the pressure off of sophomore Luis Hernandez, who will be seeing much of the time at forward in place of Thristino. Other scoring options include seniors Jake Muller and Nick Towler, among others.

Also taking over a starting role for the first time is senior goalkeeper Steven Towler, Nick’s twin brother. Towler, who replaces a goalie who made 111 saves in Chris Pedone, said watching his predecessor last season has helped prepare him to take over this fall.

“I learned a lot from him, but most of all, [he taught me] how to keep calm in stressful situations,” Towler said. “Composure is key in big games.”

Perhaps easing some of the pressure on Towler will be the predominantly returning defense, including seniors Trevor Kennedy, Mike Stiles, Henry Garcia and Cameron Patricio. O’Brien said Stiles, in particular, should have received some sort of recognition for his work from the league last season.

“Not to take anything away from the defense or the goalie last year, but they didn’t let up many goals last year and [Stiles] was a big part of it,” the head coach said. “The center defender sees a lot of action and he’s extremely physical. No one gets around him.”

Comsewogue's Trevor Kennedy dribbles up the field. File photo by Desirée Keegan
Comsewogue’s Trevor Kennedy dribbles up the field. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Between Contino, Kennedy, Stiles, the Towler brothers, Garcia, Muller and Patricio, O’Brien has a veteran crew behind him this season.

“They’re already seasoned; they’re playoff proven,” he said. “Many of these kids started last season or came off the bench. There is a reason why they’re so good this season, and it is because of the players that are returning.”

Contino said, as a leader this season, his goal is to have a positive impact on the rest of the team.

“The main thing I am trying to do is just give every single player confidence and help every player play to their best of their abilities,” he said. “Not only am I trying to help them play as a team, but I do my best to make the players realize this is a family, a brotherhood, and by that, the kids will know someone always has their back, which will help boost confidence.”

Last season, in the Suffolk County Championship, the Warriors fell to East Hampton, 1-0. Though the postseason loss certainly stung, Contino said the game isn’t necessarily circled on the calendar for his team; they’ll just play it like any other match.

“We are going to go into each game with the right mindset,” he said. “We will take it one game at a time, and when we get to East Hampton, we will deal with them then.”

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