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Don O’Brien

The Comsewogue boys’ soccer team got the ball rolling.

In League V action Friday, the Warriors invaded Rocky Point territory and blanked the Eagles, 5-0, to earn their first win of the season.

“Today was a big improvement,” Comsewogue head coach Don O’Brien said. “We’ve been struggling with some injuries and today we finally put a team on the field. They executed the offensive system of play and we created a lot of chances.”

Comsewogue sophomore forward Luis Hernandez scored first less than four minutes into the game from outside the right goal post, giving his team the early lead.

Almost 10 minutes of back-and-forth action later, Comsewogue made another good attempt, but Rocky Point junior goalkeeper Michael Antici made one of his eight saves on the day.

Despite Antici’s efforts, the Warriors found the back of the net again before the halftime break.

With 3:30 left, senior midfielder Nick Towler headed the ball off a corner kick into the right side of the goal to give his team a 2-0 advantage.

“I was going toward the goalie and just saw the ball coming and hit it in,” Towler said, laughing. “I wasn’t trying to do anything special.”

The Warriors were gunning to get another one at the start of the second half, but didn’t capitalize until senior midfielder John Koebel scored off a foul kick that had been sent into the box and rebounded off an opponent.

On the other end of the field, Warriors senior goalie Steven Towler made a couple of strong saves during the second half to preserve the shutout, but overall did not see much action.

Comsewogue senior midfielders Jake Muller and Trevor Kennedy tacked on the final two goals of the game, the latter lighting up the scoreboard when Antici tried to catch a corner kick but instead sent the ball bouncing off his hands and into the net.

The victorious Warriors were optimistic about the future, despite losing some of their top playmakers to graduation last year.

“I think we need a little more experience,” Nick Towler said. He is one of this year’s starters who was a sub last season, and he thinks he and his counterparts are “really holding the team together.”

Rocky Point head coach Joe Camarda was disappointed with his team’s effort.

“They played very flat,” he said. “It just wasn’t our game today. They didn’t really step up the way we’ve been playing, so it was one of our weaker games.”

Through the midfield and attack, Camarda said his athletes weren’t patient enough to get opportunities and finish them.

Rocky Point senior defender Jimmy Gohn agreed.

“We just had an off game,” he said. “We had some OK plays every now and again when we blasted the ball and made some connections up top, but unfortunately we didn’t get too many of those and didn’t do well clearing the ball in the back.”

But Camarda thinks his team has what it takes to be a contender in League V.

“This is, to me, one of my best teams,” he said. “Talent-wise and attitude-wise, they’ve really come together. I think we’re going to have a good season and surprise a lot of people, but if we play like today, I don’t think we will.”

O’Brien said that after a performance like the Warriors had, he’s looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season holds for his squad.

“The game plan was executed to perfection — we just have to keep building and get better,” he said. “I knew it was going to take some time for them to work together offensively to create chances, and that’s exactly what they did today. They’re getting better every game, just like we thought.”

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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.”