With five games and 14 days remaining on its League VII schedule, the Southampton boys soccer team needs only one more victory to clinch a berth into the Suffolk County Class B postseason. It would mark the sixth season in a row the Mariners have made the playoffs.
Southampton got back to its winning ways with a 2-1 victory at Port Jefferson on October 1, then two days later, defeated Wyandanch, 5-1, at home on Thursday, October 3. That’s all after the Mariners suffered their worst loss of the season in a 7-2 defeat at home to Center Moriches on September 27.
The same four teams that usually make the Class B playoffs—Southampton, Mattituck, Center Moriches and Hampton Bays—all appear to be in line to again make the postseason. It was a thought before the season started that possibly Port Jefferson would vie for a spot, being that it was the two-time defending Class C New York State champion. But the Royals have not panned out, in fact, Port Jeff, Wyandanch and Babylon, as of Monday morning, have a combined two wins.
“It’s shaping up to be the same teams,” Southampton head coach Dave Riley said of the playoffs. “Port Jeff, Wyandanch and Babylon, they could still keep it interesting. We’re just trying to stay sharp going into the second half of our schedule.”
The Mariners (5-2 League VII, 7-3 overall) played at the Royals last week and got on the board early when junior Ale Rojas scored two minutes into the game. Southampton controlled the rest of the half but couldn’t really capitalize on anything. Eventually, with three minutes remaining in the first, senior Stefan Djurasic found sophomore Gianluca Santacruz, who played the ball off his chest and kicked it in to give Southampton a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Port Jeff was awarded a penalty kick 16 minutes into the second half, and James Murphy put it past Garrett Pike to make it a 2-1 game, but Southampton controlled the tempo throughout the rest of the half and held on to the slim, one-goal lead.
Wyandanch had beaten Port Jeff earlier this season, so Southampton wasn’t taking the Warriors too lightly heading into the game last week. Just about 15 minutes into the game, Santacruz found Rojas, who scored easily to give Southampton a 1-0 lead. Only 15 minutes later, Wyandanch’s Leon Allen booted a ball from 40 yards out and it went up and over the head of Pike to tie the game. Just before halftime, though, the Mariners scored when senior Artur Barbosa volleyed a corner kick to senior Elliot LaGuardia, who played it off his chest and into the goal to give Southampton a 2-1 lead at halftime.
It didn’t take Southampton all that long to score its third goal of the game. LaGuardia made a beautiful through pass from the top of the box to a breaking Andrew Gardner and the senior scored easily to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. LaGuardia added two more goals to finish the game with a hat trick.
Riley has been emphasizing the play of seniors Milos and Stefan Djurasic throughout the season. The two brothers have been on the team since eighth grade and have now amassed 49 varsity victories together. Riley said they would like to get to 60, which could happen with a prolonged playoff run.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 10/9, at Hampton Bays; Wednesday, 10/16, at Babylon, 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 10/18, at Center Moriches, 6:30 p.m.