By Bill Landon
After 80 minutes of regulation, it was the overtime period that decided the League III boys’ soccer game Saturday afternoon between Centereach and visiting Smithtown East. Both teams were hungry for the first win of the season, but it was Centereach who prevailed, scoring nine minutes into the first overtime period to win the game, 2-1.
Centereach, accustomed to playing on grass, scored first when senior co-captain Ryan Lauer, a midfielder, dished the ball to sophomore midfielder Matt Gorski, who drove his shot to the right corner of the net for the lead with 3:56 remaining in the first half.
“We played well today, and I was pleased with our performance,” Gorski said. “I didn’t expect that it would go to overtime, but it was a good battle and I’m glad we came out with the victory.”
Fresh off a loss from crosstown rival Smithtown West, the Bulls looked to even their record when Luke Eschbach answered the call. The senior forward drilled one past the goalkeeper off a feed from junior defenseman Matthew Selman, to make it a new game eight minutes into the second half.
The Bulls, more comfortable on turf, showed no difficulty on grass as both teams moved the ball up and down the field with ease, but with few shots on goal.
As time expired in regulation play, both teams prepared for a new game in the first 10-minute overtime period.
Smithtown East head coach Mike Menendez said he expected to have his hands full with today’s game.
“Centereach is always a tough team,” he said. “Their boys play hard, they play well on their field and they were the team that came out on top. They were able to get the win so hats off to them.”
Centereach senior midfielder Elmer Alfaro charged up the left sideline out-dribbling his opponents, when he spotted teammate Ivis Trejo, who managed to find and open space in front of the cage. The co-captain dished the ball off to Trejo, and the junior midfielder blasted his shot passed the keeper to win the game.
“Smithtown’s a tough team — we came out a little flat but we played better in the second half,” Trejo said. “We had good possession today and we had good defense.”
Centereach head coach Jon Galfano said he was impressed with Alfaro’s play, especially leading up to the game-winning goal.
“Elmer Alfaro — just that run down the sideline at the end and then for him to have the wherewithall to pass it to a wide open Ivis [Trejo] was just beautiful to watch,” he said. “Elmer is one of those kids that I can put him anywhere on the field and he just knows what to do. Nobody works harder and he’s just a great kid.”
The head coach said he saw a much-improved team from the one that lost to West Islip, 2-1, two days prior.
“I felt that we lacked effort … in that first game of the season, but today we bounced back — these kids fought and fought hard and never gave up,” Galfano said. “As a coach, that’s all you can ask for. I’m very proud of them.”