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.
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.”