The Suffolk County Class A semifinal game between the East Hampton (13-3-1) and Elwood/John Glenn (11-2-4) boys soccer teams in East Hampton on Monday afternoon featured everything any true soccer fan would appreciate—outstanding saves by both goalies, impressive scoring chances by both teams, and a down-to-the-wire finish that ended in penalty kicks. When it was over, fans of the third-seeded Glenn Knights were celebrating an upset victory that sent them to the county final, while Bonac players and fans had to watch their dreams of a winning a third-straight county championship go up in flames.
Glenn will play top seed Sayville for the county title on Thursday at the Dowling Sports Complex at 4 p.m.
After the teams played to a 1-1 draw through 110 minutes of soccer, Glenn grabbed the victory by outshooting the Bonackers, 4-2, in penalty kicks. Glenn’s junior defender Andrew Pick sealed the win for his team, scoring his team’s fourth goal in five tries in the penalty kick round. Before that, Glenn senior goalie Max Karen had gotten a piece of a shot taken by East Hampton junior Bryan Oreamuno, which bounced off the right post.
Glenn opened the scoring in the game when Loic Besong crossed the ball into the penalty box and found teammate Jonathan Schefer, who headed the ball into the net early in the first half. East Hampton tied it when Nick West scored on a long booming free kick from 40 yards out, also early in the first half.
Both teams had chances to score the go-ahead goal in the second half, although the Bonackers had more. East Hampton goalie Nick Tulp made a nice save with less than 17 minutes to play. An initial pass in front of the goal pulled him out of position, but he scrambled back to the front of the net just in time to make a diving save. Shortly after that, East Hampton’s Christian Barrientos had a nice opportunity in front of the net, but Karen was able to stop his shot to keep the game even. With two minutes left in regulation, East Hampton’s Donte Donegal beat his defender at close range, but just before he unleashed a shot, the defender scrambled back and was able to break up the play. And with less than two minutes remaining in the second overtime, Nick West beat his defender along the right side, drew Karen out a bit, and then poked a shot from about 10 yards out that narrowly missed wide left.
Tulp saved the first shot of the penalty kick session, stopping Schefer’s boot, and after that, Alvaro Aguilar took a high shot that sailed a few inches over the top of the goal. Brian Lopez scored for Glenn after that, but Nick Quiroz evened it up with a shot of his own to make it 1-1. Glenn’s Vincent Piccoli made it 2-1 with a goal, and West tied it up at 2-2. Glenn’s Sean Urda scored after that, followed by Karen’s deflection of Oreamuno’s shot, which set up the winning tally by Pick.
The Bonackers, seeded second behind Sayville, which was undefeated in League V, were visibly disappointed after the tough loss. East Hampton won back-to-back county titles but lost both years in the Long Island Championship to two-time defending state champion Jericho. The Bonackers won the League VI regular season title for the third year in a row, and had high expectations for postseason success again. Head coach Rich King said after the game that his team got off to a rough start against Glenn, recovered well in the second half, but ultimately a failure to capitalize on scoring chances hurt them.
“I thought collectively we didn’t play well in the first half, then we picked it up and played our game,” King said. “But you have to finish your chances. If you finish your chances, you never get to that situation. We didn’t finish them, and you get what you get.”
East Hampton beat Glenn the only time they faced each other in the regular season, winning 4-1 back on October 3 in East Hampton. Glenn forfeited the first game of the season against East Hampton for undisclosed reasons. King didn’t seem surprised that Glenn was a more formidable opponent the second time around.
“It’s the playoffs,” he said. “I think they changed up a couple of things, but we were still effective. I think Glenn did a better job than the first time, but I don’t think we played our best match today. But hats off to those guys, they came out and dictated the pace for 30 minutes and pounded us. It’s a rivalry that’s been going on now for about three or four years. Usually, we’ve been on the winning side more often than not, so it was only a matter of time.”
The Bonackers will lose 11 seniors to graduation, but will also bring back several of their top players, meaning they should remain one of the top programs in Class A.
Before the loss to Glenn, East Hampton handled Rocky Point with relative ease in a 2-0 victory at home in the opening round of the Suffolk County Class A playoffs on Thursday. While the score may not indicate it, the Bonackers dominated time of possession and only allowed one shot on goal.
Second-seeded East Hampton got on the board in the 19th minute of the first half. Junior Nick West sent a corner kick in the box that Rocky Point senior goalie Tristan Delfox was initially able to save, but the ball popped out of his grasp and East Hampton senior Juan Patino was able to grab the loose ball and he buried his shot to make it a 1-0 game.
The game remained a 1-0 contest until the 26:20 mark in the second half. East Hampton junior Esteban Valverde played the ball near the sideline and gave a quick pass to West. After a Rocky Point defender fell down, West had room to move into the box, get behind the defense and he scored in the top left corner of the goal to give the Bonackers a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Rocky Point did a decent job of keeping the score close, thanks to Delfox, who made a few key saves, especially in the second half. He finished with eight saves while junior Nick Tulp only had to make one save.
“I thought we played well,” East Hampton head coach Rich King said after the game. “We dictated play for the full 80 minutes. I didn’t think they were very dangerous because of the way we were able to dictate, but I would like to see us finish our chances a little bit better and our situational awareness, as far as time of the game and whatnot, needs to get a little bit better. Other than that I thought we did a good job.”