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Matt Gelb

League III's No. 1-ranked Bulls tally fourth shutout in last five games

Smithtown West's Andrew McDonnell heads away a Huntington corner kick. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Brandon Erny has now scored the game-winning goal in four of the last five games for Smithtown West boys’ soccer team.

Smithtown West's Brandon Erny moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Smithtown West’s Brandon Erny moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In the Bulls’ 2-0 victory over Huntington Oct. 10, Erny knocked in Smithtown West’s first goal with 22 minutes left in the first half.

A senior co-captain, Erny made his way through midfield and passed the ball to junior Andrew McDonnell at his left. Erny then booked his way to the top of the box, grabbed the ball back from McDonnell and tapped it into the far left corner for the early advantage, and ultimately his team’s six straight win.

“I just wanted to get the ball up top,” he said. “I made the quick pass to Andrew and wanted to get the ball back as quick as possible. This was an important win today.”

Senior co-captain Aaron Siegel made multiple leaping grabs throughout the first half to preserve his clean sheet.

“I felt good today,” he said. “I was vocal; did really good in the air. All of their chances were basically long throw-ins, which I came out collecting. I was good on the line today and the back row did pretty well too, so that helped a lot.”

Smithtown West's Aaron Siegel makes a leaping save in the Bulls' shutout of Huntington. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Smithtown West’s Aaron Siegel makes a leaping save in the Bulls’ shutout of Huntington. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Huntington senior defender Matthew Gelb, with his mighty throw-ins, gave his team much of their chances at a goal, but the forwards had trouble capitalizing on any opportunities at the net. Huntington junior goalkeeper Nat Amato was also strong between the pipes.

Less than three minutes into the second half, McDonnell received the ball in the first half of Huntington’s zone, and moved it toward Amato — who started coming out of the box — and failed to beat him out as the goalkeeper made the stop. Amato did the same on a rebound opportunity. A minute later after a corner-kick send in, McDonnell got his head on the ball for the 2-0 lead.

Siegel said he knew Huntington was going to be a formidable opponent.

“It’s a tough win every year,” he said. “Huntington is really tough; always challenging. They have a coach over there who gets them energized. They always come at us full speed.”

He said his team stayed focused on Friday during practice to earn the win, his fifth shutout of the season and third at home, and will hope to do the same this Friday when his 10-1 top-seeded team takes on No. 2 Newfield (9-1-1 League III).

Huntington's Matt Gelb heads the ball over a Smithtown West player and into the Bulls' zone. Photo by Desirée Kegan
Huntington’s Matt Gelb heads the ball over a Smithtown West player and into the Bulls’ zone. Photo by Desirée Kegan

Siegel said the game will help them prepare for a postseason push. The co-captains are aiming for the county finals.

“We’re going to get playoff ready — playoff-speed ready — because there’s nothing like playoffs,” Siegel said. “Whether you’re the No. 16 team or the top seed, every team is coming at you, everything team is good and every team is fired up.”

Erny said heading into the matchup that the team will work on its defense against the closely-ranked Wolverines in the hopes that the Bulls can hold it down in the remaining two games against West Islip and Centereach to claim the League III title.

Newfield handed the Bulls their only loss this year. A 2-0 defeat Sep. 17.

“I’m looking for revenge,” Siegel said. “They took one from us on our own field and that’s the only time I’ve ever lost in three years playing here. It’s not going to happen again.”

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Northport’s Joseph Malico moves the ball while Huntington’s Kevin Gulizio attempts to steal. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Huntington’s Freddy Amador led the way for the Blue Devils Tuesday afternoon with a hat-trick performance that helped his team shut out visiting Northport, 6-0, in the final nonleague game of the season before both teams’ league openers today, Thursday.

Northport's Justin Carrano and Huntington's Kevin Gulizio leap up to head the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport’s Justin Carrano and Huntington’s Kevin Gulizio leap up to head the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

The junior midfielder hit the net first off an assist from senior midfielder Kevin Gulizio three minutes into the contest, and the duo paired up again six minutes later but this time Amador fed Gulizio for the 2-0 lead.

“The weather was a factor, it helped us,” Gulizio said. “We played hard, we came out strong and we finished well, but the key was how we started the first 10 minutes of the game.”

With rain that came down in sheets, along with gusty winds, the conditions on the field proved challenging for both teams. Throw-ins from the sideline blew out of bounds, long kicks stalled in the wind and both teams had trouble finding the net for much of the first half.

Despite the weather, Huntington head coach John Pagano expected it to be a tough matchup.

“We knocked them out of the quarterfinals in the playoffs last year, so we figured it would be a tough game,” he said. “But in fairness to Northport, everybody’s trying to see what they have, so you’re mixing and matching and you coach it a little different than you would in a league game.”

Gulizio’s foot gave his team a three-goal lead as the co-captain’s solo shot found the upper left corner of the goal less than 10 minutes into the second half.

Northport struggled to clear the ball and spent little time near Huntington’s goalkeeper, as the Blue Devils amped up the pressure.

“We didn’t come out here expecting to win 6-0,” Gulizio said. “We expected a hard game — they’re a good team — but we got some early goals and that made it hard for them the rest of the game.”

Huntington sophomore defender Edwin Garcia answered next off a cross from senior co-captain and defender Matt Gelb, to extend the Blue Devils’ advantage to 4-0 lead with 26 minutes left in the game.

Huntington's Josh Yanuck redirects the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Josh Yanuck redirects the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Amador drilled a shot unassisted past the keeper for his second goal of the evening, and then scored his hat-trick goal to put the game out of reach.

Unable to score a goal, Northport head coach Don Strasser wasn’t impressed by what he saw of his team.

“We just did not play our best soccer,” he said. “We had an off day — it’s the first time we’ve played on turf this season, but you don’t want to make excuses. And that’s what’s nice about nonleague games, you find your kinks, find what didn’t go right and you try to fix them for the league opener.”

Huntington senior co-captain Mark Rafuse, a defender, said he was surprised by the margin of victory.

“They’re a good team and they came out strong, but they didn’t have a set goalie,” the sweeper said. “So they struggled at that position,” which the Tigers capitalized on.

Northport will travel to Connetquot today, Thursday, for a 4:30 p.m. matchup, and Huntington will host North Babylon at 4 p.m.