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Wolverines

Blue Devils edge Newfield, 21-14

Huntington’s Eric Sands almost single-handedly spoiled a second straight homecoming. After the Blue Devils running back racked up four touchdowns last week in a 28-23 edging of Smithtown West, he tallied two of three Huntington scores in a 21-14 win over Newfield Oct. 14.

“We played hard physically,” Newfield head coach Nick Adler said. “But we made too many mental mistakes and the game comes down to who makes the least mistakes. Today we were not that team and we shot ourselves in the foot.”

The Wolverines got on the board early when senior running back Terrell Thomas broke away with the ball in Newfield territory and covered 64 yards on his way to the end zone. Senior Jacob Newell successfully completed the point-after kick attempt to put his team up 7-0.

Newfield quickly racked up penalties to start the second, and Huntington quarterback John Paci made the Wolverines pay for the costly errors with a 46-yard touchdown run.

“We left everything out on the field; we play really hard, we practice hard, our only concern is we’ve got to fix those mental mistakes, it kills us every game,” senior lineman Zachary Ferrari said.

With the game tied 7-7 heading into the halftime break, Newfield knew it needed to make some adjustments to come away with the homecoming win.

“All we need to do is focus better and we can’t choke like on a fourth-and-5,” Ferrari said. “We really need to improve on that in the next two weeks we are really going to see if we can get it going.”

Unfortunately, Newfield couldn’t get it going against Huntington, and Sands was too much for the Wolverines to handle. He scored on runs of 3 yards and 20 yards in the third quarter to put Huntington out front 21-7. He finished the day with 153 yards on 21 attempts.

“All these teams are good, and we’re not going to be able to overcome and win a game against a team like that when we make that many mistakes,” Adler said. “This is a great team we played, but we have to regain our focus. The season’s not over and I look forward to next week.”

Junior wide receiver Anthony Cabral scored the Wolverines’ only other touchdown late in the third on a 5-yard pass from Newfield’s sophomore quarterback Maxwell Martin.

Newfield fell to 1-5 in the Division II standings while Huntington improved to 4-2 with its third straight win. Newfield hosts North Babylon (5-1) Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. before hosting Smithtown East (1-5) Oct. 27 in the last game of the season.

“We should come out the way we practice, with more energy and more focus,” senior lineman Christopher Vidal said. “I was very confident, and I still am very confident in my team. I know we can make a comeback. It’s just all about how much we really want it.”

Jen Holden contributed reporting

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Newfield's Olivia Bond saves the Wolverines from losing a point. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Newfield girls volleyball team came roaring back from a first-set loss to take the next three for a 3-1 nonleague win over visiting Walt Whitman Oct. 10, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-19.

Newfield’s Madison Wenzel serveds the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield took its first lead on a point that put the Wolverines ahead 7-6 in the second set. The team made several mental errors and was caught looking at two inbound balls as Walt Whitman bounced right back to tie the set 15-15. After a handful of long volleys, Newfield found its rhythm and rattled off three unanswered points, and after a brief hiccup scored two more to edge ahead 20-16.

Coming out of a Wildcats timeout, Newfield capitalized on Walt Whitman miscues, and senior outside hitter Olivia Bond smacked a break point kill shot over the net to propel the Wolverines to the win.

“At first our energy wasn’t up, and in the second set we knew we needed to win,” Bond said. “Walt Whitman was really good at scrambling, but we pulled it together. We pushed, and once we bring our energy up, we can do anything.”

Walt Whitman stretched in the third set to break out to an 18-12 advantage. Newfield came out of a timeout call refreshed, and chipped away at the deficit until the Wolverines tied the set 19-19. Both teams traded points, and again Walt Whitman was back on top, 22-21. That is, until Newfield senior Naomi Ruffalo-Roman had something to say about it. She sent a kill shot over the net to tie the set 22-22, and scored twice more from the service line to bring her team to the finish line.

“We made more mistakes than we would like,” Ruffalo-Roman said. “But we worked really hard towards the end and our hitting was much better.”

Newfield’s Naomi Ruffalo-Roman spikes the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

The Wolverines knew they had to come out strong in the fourth set to avoid a fifth, and took charge from behind the line as senior libero Jessica Clark went on a service scoring streak that put Newfield ahead 18-10.

“Whitman is a really good team — they were scrambling, so we had to gather it up,” Clark said. “Our team played better from [the second set], but we need to focus on our serving — we hit a lot into the net.”

Newfield junior Jeanette Bruni got busy from behind the line as the left-handed hitter found holes on the other side of the net to put her team out front 22-15. The team ran away with the game from there.

Ruffalo-Roman had 18 kills and 10 digs to lead Newfield, now at 5-5 overall, and junior setter Madison Wenzel added 36 assists and three aces.

“They got to a lot of balls and they kept the ball in play,” Newfield head coach Christy Innes said of Walt Whitman. “They are very young and we knew we had to out-hustle them because that team can get their hands on a lot of balls that other teams can’t.”

Newfield is back in action hosting Smithtown East Oct. 13 in a League III matchup at 5:45 p.m.

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Newfield senior Emily Diaz sends the ball to the box. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Newfield’s girls soccer team is sharing the wealth.

Five Wolverines scored and four added assists in a 6-0 shutout of Copiague Sept. 25. Despite putting the game out of reach early, Newfield’s athletes were quick to point to missed opportunities.

“We need to finish the ball in front of the net more, but we had a lot of opportunities,” senior center back Taylor Regensburger said. “Having different opportunities gives us momentum going into the next game.”

Newfield sophomore Sierra Rosario sends the ball to her feet. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Senior midfielder Emily Diaz put the Wolverines on the board early, and midfielders freshman Nicole Niculescu and sophomore Karlie Martin also found the corners of the goal for a 3-0 halftime lead.

Despite the lead, Newfield fell victim to offside calls that halted breakaway opportunities.

“Credit to Copiague because they’re well-coached,” Newfield head coach Domenik Veraldi said. “Those offside traps aren’t us being more offside as them knowing exactly what they’re doing. It’s a lot of credit to Copiague and how much work they put into using that strategy to their advantage.”

Regensburger, Diaz and junior forward Kaitlyn Drennan tallied the second-half scores, but no one could take their eyes off sophomore center midfielder Sierra Rosario, who bounced up and down the field frequently unmarked despite Copiague screaming for coverage with each toss or send-in.

“I think everyone contributed to the game and did their own thing, but as a team we still worked well,” Rosario said. “We kept possession, which is something we’re working on, and we’re building that possession-based game by not just looking for the long pass.”

Verladi said he is also seeing the possession game develop.

“We want to keep the ball on the floor, we want to do a lot of off-the-ball movement, we want to work the ball to everybody,” he said. “We were a little inconsistent, but there’s steps in the right direction.”

The coach said he thinks his team has been overlooked after the Wolverines made it to the Class AA quarterfinals last season.

Newfield sophomore Karlie Martin battles for the ball at midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I think we were a little underestimated heading in,” he said. “Last year we ended in a good spot and graduated several seniors, so I think people thought we had a young team and it won’t be the same team.”

With the win the Wolverines are now 4-2 at the halfway point in the season, dropping games to Half Hollow Hills East and Smithtown West, the team that knocked out Newfield in the postseason last year.

“Last year boosted our program’s confidence, so this year we’re looking to take that even further,” Rosario said.

Regensburger said she sees now what she may not have seen heading into the season.

“I didn’t think we’d be better than last year, but since we’ve come back and started playing, I think we can do even better and go farther in the playoffs,” she said. “We have a lot of strong young players.”

Veraldi said the next two weeks will be telling as to where his team will ultimately fall in the standings, but said the objective remains the same: get to the playoffs.

“They have acute senses,” he said of his Wolverines. “It looks like they want the ball, and they have a plan once they get the ball. They were able to move it in a fashion where they wanted to generate some offense, and we’re going to keep powering through.”

By Bill Landon

Smithtown West had a score to settle, as the girls volleyball team opened the season on the road at Newfield, the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year. For the Bulls, redemption was sweet as the girls swept the Wolverines in three straight sets Sept. 5, 25-10, 25-22, 25-23.

“We know they’re a tough team, they’re scrappy defensively and they’re not going to give up,” said Smithtown West head coach Deron Brown. “We came out really strong in the first set — we put a big number on the board to start.”

“I was happy with how we picked ourselves up in the second game. We got aggressive and had good communication out on the court.”

— Christy Innes

Anchoring the outside hitting game for Smithtown West were senior Peri Allen from the right side and freshman Sally Tietjen from the left.

“Last year — they crushed us in three,” said Allen, who notched 16 digs and eight kills. “So to win today in three proved that we [are capable] of beating them, so it was a big win for us.”

For Tietjen, the scoring was almost reversed, recording 15 kills and eight digs for the formidable scoring duo up front.

The Bulls barreled through the Newfield  in the first set, and despite being ahead 13-6 in the second set, Newfield slowly chipped away at the deficit. As the momentum shifted the Wolverines’ way, with the help of some Smithtown West miscues, Newfield rallied to close the gap to 22-19, forcing Smithtown West to call timeout. Out of the break, the Wolverines scored two unanswered points to trail by one before the Bulls closed the door, 25-22.

Newfield head coach Christy Innes said she anticipated a tough match and said her team had to shake off the first set and focus on playing mistake free the rest of the way.

“[Smithtown West] did very well today — they played a very aggressive game, but we expected that,” the coach said. “I was happy with how we picked ourselves up in the second game. We got aggressive and had good communication out on the court.”

“In that third set I just wanted to make sure we kept pushing through. We fell behind a little bit and this happened to us last year, so we had to really fight through that game, and we pushed hard.

Sally Tietjen

The Wolverines once again got off to a slow start to open the third set, falling behind 5-0 before they could answer. Madison Wenzel set to her outside hitters — senior Naomi Ruffalo-Roman and junior Olivia Bond — as the three battled at the net to claw their way back, tying the set 14-14. It was a see-saw battle the rest of the way with Newfield taking its first lead of the day, edging ahead 15-14, but the Bulls rallied back too, to make it a new game at 18-18.

“In that third set I just wanted to make sure we kept pushing through,” Tietjen said. “We fell behind a little bit and this happened to us last year, so we had to really fight through that game, and we pushed hard. We were so determined to beat them after last year, so we didn’t let up.”

The Wolverines scored, but the Bulls answered. An out-of-bounds serve gave the lead back to Newfield for 20-19 advantage, and both teams traded points before Smithtown West scored the final two to win.

Newfield is back on the court Sept. 7 when the team travels to Riverhead for a 4 p.m. match.

“They pulled together,” Innes said. “They got aggressive, had good communication and they played well in the last two games. We’ll be back at practice tomorrow and work on the individual skills stuff for each girl and we’ll focus on cleaning up the technique.”

Smithtown West will host crosstown foe Smithtown East Sept. 7 at 5:45 p.m.

“Our lineup is not really set yet — we’re still trying different kids in different spots — but everybody responded well,” Brown said. “They went out on the court with energy and they stayed positive, even when the match got tight.”

Smithtown East's Michael Ruggiero hurls a pitch. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Smithtown East’s Matt Laurelli races back to the base while Newfield’s Tom DeSena waits for the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Smithtown East’s baseball bats were cracking May 2 during a 15-0 shutout of Newfield to maintain the No. 2 spot in League III. With the win, the Bulls are three games behind Half Hollow Hills East.

Smithtown East senior starting pitcher Michael Ruggiero was as big a threat at the plate as he was from the mound. He belted the ball through  the gap to drive home sophomore Nick Harvey for the early lead in the top of the third, and senior Andrew Canino followed with a shot to right field, plating Ruggiero and junior Matt Laurelli for a 3-0 lead.

Newfield head coach Eric Joyner met with starting pitcher Ryan Wappaus on the mound, but the talk didn’t help, as Newfield loaded the bases with two outs. Junior Marc Barbiglia was up to bat next and smashed a base-clearing double to double the advantage to 6-0.

Newfield’s Mike Manzolillo makes contact. Photo by Bill Landon

“They’re a great team — they came out here and they fought hard, but we put the bat on the ball,” Barbiglia said. “We threw strikes, let them hit the ball, put the ball in play [and] we had good fielding. But our bats were on fire today.”

In the top of the fourth inning, Newfield found itself in another tough spot with a runner on base and Ruggiero up to bat. He blasted the ball over the right fielder’s head and speedily made his way around the bases for an in-the-park home run.

“He put it on the outside half [of the plate], it was a 3-1 count, so I knew a fastball was coming,” Ruggiero said. “I jumped right on it and hit it the other way. They did get me earlier in the game, but I fell back and adjusted. [Newfield is] scrappy — a good baseball team — but we were able to shut them down today.”

Newfield made its second change at the mound, but the Bulls didn’t miss a beat. Ruggiero singled to shallow right to put runners on the corner in the top of the sixth, a walk loaded the bases, and Canino drew another walk to bring home Harvey for a nine-run lead.

Smithtown East’s Marc Barbiglia makes his way to home plate. Photo by Bill Landon

“We had base runners on in the first three innings, but we just didn’t get the big hit to get some runs on the board to keep us close,” Joyner said. “They took the advantage moving base runners over and had timely hitting, and we just didn’t do that today.”

Justin Harvey, Nick’s twin brother, found the gap scoring Laurelli, and the runs piled on from there. Sophomore Will Kennedy drove in two with a stand-up double, Barbiglia smacked another RBI-single and sophomore Matt Tempone drilled a two-run double for the final runs.

“They have very good pitching, very good players,” Smithtown East head coach Ken Klee said of Newfield. “Michael Ruggiero, he’s our leader — we’ve been waiting all year to start him and he did exactly what we expected of him. It was probably our best offensive game all year, but they were on the wrong side of it today. We know they’re good, so we’ve got to be ready to play [them again] tomorrow.”

Newfield traveled to Smithtown East May 3, but results were not available by press time. Newfield will host Smithtown East May 4 at 4:30 p.m. to complete the three-game series.

Ward Melville’s Ben Rojak and Newfield’s Evan Sidorowicz reach out to get a touch on one another. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Newfield was searching for its first win of the season, but the Wolverines had their hands full Dec. 19 with a matchup against Ward Melville on the fencing strip. The Patriots dynasty handily outscored its opponent 19-8 to extend their undefeated season to 4-0. Sabreist Jack Rohan defeated his third opponent on the night to give his team the 14th victory out of 27 possible, which put the meet away.

Ward Melville head coach Jeff Salmon flushed his bench to get his nonstarters some experience on the strip, and even those Patriots excelled.

Ward Melville’s Regan St. Clair and Newfield’s Jake Hempe connect. Photo by Bill Landon

“This year we have a lot of seniors and then there’s a big empty spot, so I’m trying to prepare for the future,” Salmon said. “But I feel pretty comfortable this season. It’s next season that I’m trying to get ready for.”

Sophomore foilist Jake Hempe broke the ice for Newfield in the fifth bout of the evening, defeating Ward Melville’s Regan St. Clair 5-1.

Hempe is undefeated after four meets, and with his victories over Ward Melville, improved to 15-0 on the season.

“Ward Melville is exactly what I was expecting,” Hempe said. “ I fence with these guys at club, but as far as our performance, we just have to be more aggressive. We have the right actions, but sometimes we’re too slow. We need to come off the blade faster and we have to finish.”

Ward Melville senior epéeist Michael Jaklitsch blanked his opponent 5-0 in the seventh bout to stretch his team’s lead to 6-1.

“We’re a strong team — we fenced really well — so it’s nice when we face a team that may not be as strong, where we can get our new fencers out on the strip,” Jaklitsch said. “The big thing is to get them ready in case we have an injury or someone gets sick.”

Jaklitsch said his squad is shallow in epée, so his focus has been training the new fencers.

Newfield sabreist Patrick Hyneman said, despite being shutout by his opponent, the defeat makes him a better fencer.

Ward Melville’s Nick Ramos gets a touch on Newfield’s Vincent Reyes. Photo by Bill Landon

“I had fenced them during a tournament, and when I go up against them, I learn so much from these guys,” Hyneman said. “Sure, it’s sad to lose, but to fence these guys — I take what I’ve learned into my next match.”

Newfield head coach Kyle Schirmer said his team is young, with just two seniors and one junior, and said it’s a sophomore that stands out on his team.

“Hempe is my captain — he’s been on the team since the seventh grade, he’s a good team leader, he’s patient and he helps the other kids,” said the coach.

Ward Melville foilist Matthew Chiarelli won his first bout 5-2, but lost his second in a close contest, falling 5-4 to Hempe.

“We got a lot of the new fencers in today, which is always nice,” Chiarelli said. “That’s great to get them out on the strip because they are the future of our team, so it’s good to bring them in early to see what it’s like out there.”

With the loss, Newfield drops to 0-5 and will host another winless team in Brentwood, Dec. 22 at 5 p.m.

“My team is very young, so we’re going to work on the basics right now,” Schirmer said. “We face Brentwood next, and it’ll go a lot better than it went today.”

Newfield's Paul Vonvoight drives to the hoop. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Newfield eighth-grader Ziggy Hoe’s first points were game-winning, literally.

The guard, making his debut at the varsity level, swished a three-pointer with less than a minute left to give his team a 58-56 advantage, and ultimately the win, for the Wolverines. Newfield edged out Comsewogue, 59-56, in the physical and foul-riddled nonleague game Dec. 13.

“They were very aggressive; they can make plays,” Newfield head coach Anthony Agostino said of Comsewogue. “I have two freshman and an eighth-grader. I’m real proud of my guys because they played so hard.”

It was a slow start, as neither team scored in the first three minutes of play. Comsewogue junior David Heller broke the ice when he hit a three-pointer, and after three unanswered field goals by Newfield, Heller tacked on another three-pointer to tie the game.

Newfield's justin Ottenwalder scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield’s Justin Ottenwalder scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

The Warriors’ defense put on an aerial show, blocking several shots, which forced the Wolverines to shoot from outside the paint. As a result, Comsewogue went on a run that helped it edge ahead 14-8 two minutes into the second quarter.

The teams traded points, and Comsewogue junior guard Tyler Petruzzi hit a long distance three-pointer with just under three minutes left until halftime that put his Warriors out front 21-12. Newfield rallied with a pair of defensive steals, and made it a four-point game by the break, 23-19.

Newfield’s Paul Vonvoight had the hot hand in the third, as the junior guard banked three field goals to put his team out front for the first time, 24-23, with 6:40 left in the quarter. The Warriors countered to retake the lead, 25-24, but Vonvoight drained a three-pointer to make it a three-point game, 33-30, with less than three minutes left in the third.

“We knew they’re a great team — we had to come out and fight for every point,” Vonvoight said. “We had to keep our cool, be humble and focus on every possession.”

Comsewogue went on a 8-1 run, and junior Dylan Morris Gray took to the floor after the Warriors’ starting point guard fouled out.

“We caught a break when [Joey] Carillo fouled out,” Agostino said.

But the team didn’t miss a beat. Morris Gray drove the lane and fought his way to the rim for two points and was fouled in the process. He completed the three-point play from the charity stripe to give his team a 40-34 lead, and both teams added a field goal to end the third with Comsewogue up 42-36.

The teams opened the final stanza trading points again, but this time, at the charity stripe. Then, Newfield senior forward Justin Ottenwalder hit a long distance trey to trail by three with just under five minutes left. Next, Ottenwalder stole the ball and drove the baseline, where he was fouled. He went to the line shooting once, and scored to tie the game 52-52 with 2:17 left in regulation.

“The first game was going to be hard because you’re not used to the speed of the game,” Ottenwalder said. “Effort and energy won the game for us today.”

Comsewogue's Alan Smith shoots over a defender. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Alan Smith shoots over a defender. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue junior guard Alan Smith spoke next with a shot from three-point land, only to have Ottenwalder counter, tying the game at 55-55.

After Comsewogue junior guard Tom McGuire split his chances at the free-throw line, Hoe dropped his three-pointer with 41 seconds on the clock, for the 58-56 lead.

“We were taking quick shots when we had the lead — we could’ve taken our time, taken all 35 seconds off the shot clock,” Heller said. “But we didn’t do that, and it cost us the game.”

Newfield’s defense made a stand and denied Comsewogue with a turnover, and drew a foul on a play with 5.4 seconds left. Vonvoight, shooting for two points, hit the front end but missed the back, for the point that gave the game its final score.

“The turnovers were a big thing — but I thought our rebounding was a lot better than our last game,” Comsewogue junior forward and center Patrick Billings said. “We can’t have the kind of mistakes we had today. We’ve just got to play better next game.”

Ottenwalder finished with 17 points for Newfield, and Vonvoight added 15.

Heller led Comsewogue with 18 points.

Comsewogue head coach Joel Sutherland told his team that the loss will serve as a wake-up call.

“I thought we came out strong, but we have to get better taking care of the ball,” Sutherland said. “This game will make us better, and it’ll make us stronger.”

Newfield hits the road to open league play Dec. 20 at Copiague, with tipoff scheduled for 4 p.m. Comsewogue will host Harborfields the same day at 5:45 p.m.

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Isaiah Israel evades a tackle as he plow his way up the middle. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Newfield’s No. 6 football team made it a one-point game twice in its qualifying matchup against Half Hollow Hills West Nov. 5, but couldn’t overtake the No. 3 seed, falling 35-26.

“I’m so proud of our players — they left it out on the field,” Newfield head coach Joe Piccininni said. “They played Newfield football, and we can’t be more proud of them because their effort out there on the field is a championship [in itself].”

Justin Ottenwalder drags a tackler as moved the ball up the field. Photo by Bill Landon
Justin Ottenwalder drags a tackler as moved the ball up the field. Photo by Bill Landon

Hills West struck first three minutes in with a 3-yard plunge into the end zone. The Colts found touchdown land again four minutes later to break out to a 14-0 lead.

Newfield senior Tom Long, who shared quarterback duties with freshman Max Martin all afternoon, helped his team to the Colts’ 22-yard line, and handed the ball off to senior running back Isaiah Israel, who slipped passed two tacklers and went the distance to break the ice for the Wolverines. Senior wide receiver and linebacker Christopher Lopez split the uprights to make it a one-score game.

With just over two minutes left in the first half on a 4th down from the 8-yard line, Long was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled looking for an open receiver. On the run, he found senior Justin Ottenwalder cutting to the corner of the end zone and threw a touchdown strike to close the gap, but when the point-after attempt failed, Newfield was left down, 14-13.

The Wolverines’ defense struggled with the Colts’ running game, which gobbled up yardage through the middle of the field, and finished a sustained drive on a short-yardage play to edge ahead 21-13 with just over a minute left in the first half.

Newfield’s’ running game stammered, and struggled to gain ground against Hills West’s defense, which caused the Wolverines to move to the air. After two consecutive pass plays, and with time running out in the second stanza, Long used his hurry-up offense to throw a deep pass to his favorite receiver, Ottenwalder, who was flying down the right sideline. He caught a 48-yard pass in stride, and Lopez’s foot made it a one-point game, 21-20, to close out the half.

Tom Long throws the ball deep into Half Hollow Hills West territory. Photo by Bill Landon
Tom Long throws the ball deep into Half Hollow Hills West territory. Photo by Bill Landon

At the 7:54 mark of the third quarter, Hills West’s Alexander Filacouris broke from the line and found the end zone for his third touchdown of the afternoon to put the Colts out front 28-20.

Newfield lined up in punt formation on a 4th and 7 on the 42-yard line on its next drive, and Long, who is also the punter, took the long snap and threw to Israel running over the middle, and he took the ball to the 8-yard line. Israel finished what he started, and plowed up the middle for the touchdown to trail by two points.

Newfield knew what it needed to do, and lined up for the 2-point conversion attempt to tie the game. Long rolled to his right and threw to an open Ottenwalder, but the Colts’ defense knocked the pass down.

The one-score game was short lived, and Hills West struck again with just over two minutes left in the third, and with the point-after attempt successful, stretched the lead to 35-26.

“They’re an extremely talented team, they’re big and they’re physical,” Piccininni said of the Colts. “We were down 10 points, so the only way to move the ball downfield in that amount of time was to put the ball in the air and to utilize the clock.”

With time running out, the Wolverines threw over the middle only to have a pass picked off at the 1-yard line. Hills West ran the ball up the middle to buy some time, and took two knees to seal the deal.

“I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach a great group of seniors, and watch the leadership they’ve shown,” Piccininni said. “I’m proud of our players — they left it all out in the field.”

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Rafael Celanti gets a shot on goal off a corner kick. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Rafael Celanti started off this season as a center midfielder, and after the decision to move him to center forward, the sophomore’s coaches — and the rest of the Newfield boys’ soccer team — are reaping the benefits.

Nick Gomez heads the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Nick Gomez heads the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Celanti repeatedly came through for his team after the change, and helped the Wolverines make history. He scored early for his second game-winning goal of the postseason in a 2-0 victory over previously undefeated Hauppauge (15-1-3) Oct. 31, which sent his team to the Suffolk County finals for the first time in school history.

“He’s been a superstar,” Newfield’s 12-year head coach Jamie Santiago said of Celanti. “He’s doing everything a center forward does — he holds the plays up, he scores goals, he’s so elusive there. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for him.”

Celanti scored in the eighth minute of the contest when he blasted a shot into the bottom left corner.

“I saw the center back coming inside, and he backed away and thought the goalie was going to pick it up, so I ran and got to it first,” the sophomore said. “I’m speechless. Newfield never made it this far and I’m happy to be part of it.”

The Wolverines battled through its 16-1-1 season tallying nine shutouts with a handful of come-from-behind wins. Senior center back John Alves knew what it would take to get the Wolverines further than any Newfield team had been before.

“I told the boys it’s going to be a battle, but it’s just going to be another game of soccer,” he said. “I told them we need to settle down and play our game, and we scored early, which helped our emotions.”

Anthony Mauri screams in celebration following the semifinal win. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Anthony Mauri screams in celebration following the semifinal win. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After several pushes made by Hauppauge to even the score, sophomore center attack and midfielder Nick Gomez put the game out of reach when he headed in a free kick by senior Mike DiDominico.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” he said of the team making history, adding he was also thankful that his coach didn’t listen to him when he asked for a substitute to get him off the field right before the free kick. “It felt great to make it in and extend the lead for my team.”

Santiago said he was proud of his team’s achievements this season, which so far include nabbing the League III title and making it to the Class AA finals after not making the semis in 17 years.

“These guys have been through so much all season long,” he said. “There’s been peaks and valleys of emotions and to be the first team to make the finals is historic, and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone and their effort. It’s a joyous occasion for all of us.”

Santiago also credited Alves, the team’s leader on the back line. Sophomore goalkeeper Loui Chen made several diving, quick-reaction saves to maintain the clean sheet. He finished with eight saves.

No. 3 Newfield will face No. 4 Brentwood in the finals at Diamond in the Pines in Coram Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.

While Santiago said Brentwood is a program the Wolverines aspire to be like, Alves said his team has the right mindset to continue to make history.

“This season’s been a war, and we’ve battled the entire time to come out on top,” he said. “The emotions are crazy right now. I’m happy to finally do something for the school — put ourselves on the map. I tell my teammates to fight for the person next to you and play as hard as you can, and I’m confident we can continue to battle to reach new heights. We’re here to play.”

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