A 7-2 loss at home to Center Moriches on Friday tainted what was a relatively successful week for the Southampton boys soccer team. The Mariners had defeated Babylon, 3-2, at home on September 25 and won, 3-0, at Greenport in a non-league game on September 23 before suffering the loss on Friday.
The Mariners (3-2 League VII, 5-3 overall) suffered two key injuries last week to its defense, with sophomore Jesse Scanlon going down with a sprained ankle and junior Kevin Dexter nursing a knee injury. The absence of both players seemed to have an effect on the Mariners in the loss to Center Moriches.
Southampton actually got out to a very quick 1-0 lead on Friday when senior Artur Barbosa found senior Elliot LaGuardia on a through ball, giving him a breakaway. LaGuardia capitalized and scored in the bottom right-hand corner to give the Mariners the lead just 55 seconds into the game.
The Red Devils bounced back quickly, though, and tied the game just a few minutes later. They then went on to score six consecutive goals.
“We let them control the midfield,” Riley explained. “It really threw us for a loop. They were beating us to all sorts of passes, they made some nice through balls, and they were pressuring our defense relentlessly.
“They kind of turned the tables on the game,” he added. “When they scored to tie the game I think it caught us off guard a little. It was impressive to see them regain their footing so quickly. The wheels just fell off for us and we couldn’t pick it up back up.”
Riley said a positive taken from the game was that it was a 1-1 second half. Senior Milos Djurasic scored a goal late in the game, which showed Riley he was playing until the final whistle.
“As much as we want to forget about that first half, I think it would be a mistake just to completely write it off,” Riley said. “I think they want to forget about it, but we have to figure out what happened there.”
Against Babylon, the Mariners had an early 2-0 lead, thanks to goals from Milos Djurasic and junior Ale Rojas. But in the second half, the Panthers scored two goals to tie the game up at 2-2. Riley said it was one of those games where his players had plenty of opportunities to score but they couldn’t find the back of the net.
Eventually, with only 10 seconds remaining in regulation, senior Ben Pereira, filling in for the injured Dexter, took the ball 30 yards out. He took on a defender and beat him, then found LaGuardia at the 18-yard line, and he finished the goal through the goalie’s feet to score with two seconds remaining and giving the Mariners a late victory.
“It wasn’t super pretty,” Riley said of the win. “It turned into something where we had to grind it out.”
Freshman Jacob Villalobos scored his first varsity goal for Southampton in the victory over Greenport. It was the first game for Southampton since its altercation with Hampton Bays two weeks ago and Villalobos was starting due to three regulars being suspended. Sophomore Gianluca Santacruz and senior Stefan Djurasic also added goals for Southampton.
Due to Hampton Bays’ 1-0 overtime victory over Mattituck last week, the standings in League VII have taken a turn. All teams in the league now have one loss, and while Southampton sits in fourth place, all of the teams above it are in reach.
“Hats off to Hampton Bays. They powered through that victory over Mattituck,” Riley said. “For us, I think it keeps the league interesting. It shows that it’s more exciting this way and you can’t take anything for granted with the league being this tight.”
ON THE SCHEDULE: Thursday, 10/3, vs. Wyandanch, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, 10/7, vs. Mattituck, 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 10/9, at Hampton Bays, 4 p.m.