It has been a trying season, to say the least, for both the Eastport South Manor and Westhampton Beach boys soccer teams.
Both sit at the bottom of the League V standings as injuries, combined with an unusual amount of inexperience, have slowed the success of both programs, which were playoff teams only a year ago.
On October 16, Westhampton Beach (0-11 League V, 0-14-1 overall) hosted ESM (3-7-2 League V, 3-9-3 overall), and the Sharks prevailed, walking away with a 1-0 win. ESM senior Jacob Black scored on a header off a cross from sophomore Keith Foley in the 70th minute of the game. It would end up being the game-winner. Black finished the season with seven goals, tops among Sharks.
ESM head coach Peter Novellano said he thought last week’s game would go into overtime; the Sharks have played to three ties already this season, so overtimes are almost expected. But the extra frame was not required thanks to Black, who helped the Sharks pick up their first win in seven contests.
“We’ve been playing good teams lately and we were in most of those games until we had some breakdowns,” he said. “It was nice to get a win out of that game.”
Westhampton Beach senior Eric Hayes had a few chances to score in the first half. But his first shot went off the post and his second was saved nicely by ESM senior goalie Thomas Biasetti. It was the sixth 1-0 loss for the Hurricanes this season.
“The kids are doing as well as they possibly can,” Westhampton Beach head coach Don O’Brien said. “They’re working hard and doing all the right things. Once gain, it was a competitive game where my kids played well and we struggled to score.”
O’Brien was expecting big things from Hayes and fellow senior Max Pastor this season, but injuries have been an issue. Hayes has been playing with a hernia for much of the season and Pastor had been playing with a torn ligament in his leg until calling it quits a few weeks ago.
Westhampton Beach lost, 5-0, at Sayville on Friday. The Golden Flashes started eight seniors to the seven sophomores and two freshmen that the Canes had on the field.
“This has been the easiest group that I’ve ever coached,” O’Brien said. “They are unbelievably low maintenance, they are team-oriented and their team chemistry is the best. But we graduated nine starters from last year, so a lot of the JV kids have gone from JV to starting on varsity.
“I can’t say enough good things about a team that hasn’t won a game,” he continued. “There have been games that we have not been in, but there have been a lot of competitive games. We’re playing teams that are bigger, faster and stronger than us and that’s a lot to overcome.”
ESM went on to win its final game of the season, 2-1, at home over Islip on Friday. Junior Tristan Luccari tied the game at 1-1 five minutes into the second half and sophomore Jacob Doorhy scored the game-winner with three minutes remaining in regulation.
Following the game, Doorhy came up to Novellano with tears in his eyes and hugged his coach. Novellano didn’t know what the problem was but Doorhy explained that his grandfather had passed away the night before and he originally wasn’t going to play against Islip. Luckily for the Sharks, he decided to play.
ESM had tied Islip 1-1 earlier this season and beating the Buccaneers last week pretty much ended their hopes of making the playoffs.
“I do like the way we finished the season,” Novellano said. “I would say the last four games we definitely started playing soccer the way we could be playing.
“It was good to have everyone back and playing together,” he continued. “It was a rough year. There are a lot of things we have to work on, but I think I got a lot of these guys enough experience where, hopefully, we can be successful next year.”
Black, Biasetti, Daniel Lebenns and Brendon O’Braitis will all be graduating in June. Both Black and Biasetti will be sorely missed, according to their coach.
“I’ve had Tom for three years, dating back to when I coached JV,” Novellano said. “He was a senior leader for us. And Jacob I’ve had for four years. He’s definitely going to be a big piece of the puzzle that we’re going to miss. His leadership is going to be missed and all the kids look up to him because he’s such a great kid.”