The Hampton Bays boys soccer team led Center Moriches, 2-0, at halftime on October 1, and it looked as though the Baymen were going to bring down another League VII giant, as they did a week earlier in a win over Mattituck.
Host Center Moriches, though, rallied to score four second-half goals to win 4-3 and spoil the Baymen’s chances of a big victory.
Thanks to two first-half goals by Andres Tapia and Cristian Iquia, Hampton Bays took a solid lead into halftime. But Hampton Bays head coach John Paga was not convinced. “I was never confident with that lead,” he said. “I thought we were a little lucky to be up 2-0.”
Paga knew the Red Devils were going to come out of halftime fired up—and they were. Just seven minutes into the half, Center Moriches was able to get one to squeak past Hampton Bays goalie Joe Calamita. Then, just a few minutes later, the Baymen had a bad giveaway in their own zone, and Dan Franchi scored on a breakaway to tie the game, 2-2.
Halfway through the second half, the Baymen blew a marking assignment on a corner kick and left Kevin O’Brien wide open—he headed it in to give the Red Devils its first lead of the game, 3-2.
Hampton Bays responded: Iquia took a shot that bounced back out, and Christian Loaiza grabbed the rebound and scored on an open net to make it 3-3.
“At that point it became a 50-50 ballgame,” Paga said. “Both teams tightened up a little.”
With about two minutes remaining in the game, Tapia was called for what Paga called a soft foul, but it gave Center Moriches a free kick from about midfield. The Red Devils played a long ball into the box, and Calamita came out to play the ball—but so did Josue Lazo-Molina of Center Moriches. Lazo-Molina banked the loose ball into the open goal, and the Red Devils completed their comeback.
Throughout the season, Hampton Bays has had a hard time with dead-ball plays, such as free kicks and corner kicks, but the issue is always magnified when the Baymen play a much larger team, such as Center Moriches, which had a distinct height advantage.
“Dating back for three years now, we’ve had a hard time defending dead-ball plays against Center Moriches,” Paga said. “We’re tiny. When we have a 6-foot-4 guy marked up by our 5-foot-6 guy, it doesn’t work out well for us. It’s a weakness of ours, marking set pieces, especially against one of the biggest teams in the league where that’s their forte.
“We did play real well,” he continued. “We were up 2-0 on the road. We have a 1-0 loss and a 4-3 loss against Center Moriches. We said we wanted to be able to play with those guys, and we can.”
Even after the loss, Hampton Bays is two wins away from clinching a spot in the Suffolk County Class B playoffs. If the Baymen do, in fact, clinch a spot, it will be their sixth consecutive season having made the playoffs. Still, Paga noted that his team has to “finish the job” and get in.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 10/9, vs. Southampton; Friday, 10/11, at Port Jefferson, 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 10/16, vs. Wyandanch, 6:30 p.m.