The Southampton boys soccer team rebounded from its from season-opening loss to East Hampton with two consecutive victories last week. After easily defeating Greenport/Shelter Island, 8-1, in a non-league game on September 9, the Mariners won their first League VII game of the season, 2-1, at Wyandanch on Thursday, September 12.
The Mariners were pressuring Wyandanch throughout the first half of last week’s game but couldn’t put one in goal until 55 seconds were remaining. Southampton seniors Elliot LaGuardia and Stefan Djurasic teamed up to outwork the Warriors’ defense. Djurasic touched the ball over to LaGuardia, who knocked the ball in the goal for the first score of the game.
Wyandanch didn’t lie down, though. Leon Allen, in his fourth season on varsity for the Warriors, scored to tie the game 10 minutes into the second half. Southampton responded with 20 minutes remaining in the game.
Senior Milos Djurasic served LaGuardia with a nice ball in the box. LaGuardia squared himself up with the Wyandanch goalie and kicked the eventual game-winning goal in the bottom left corner.
Wyandanch tried its best to even the score. The Warriors had three consecutive corner kicks in the final two minutes of the game, but junior goalie Garrett Pike came up with some stops and the Mariner defense kept Wyandanch to the outside. Pike finished with seven saves.
Southampton head coach Dave Riley said that he liked that his team didn’t get down after the Warriors tied the game in the second half.
“Our guys didn’t lose their momentum. They didn’t seem fazed by it,” he said. “They knew they were outplaying them. Against East Hampton, I sensed a real change of tempo once we got scored on.”
LaGuardia is returning to the Mariners after a small hiatus. He played for Southampton in 2010, before transferring to St. Anthony’s High School in 2011. LaGuardia is a welcome return to the Mariners, Riley said.
“He’s found his way back to his hometown team,” Riley said. “He was always at all of our home games cheering us on. We’re real excited to have him back.”
Riley said it’s never easy playing in Wyandanch, since the fields there are the total opposite of what the Mariners play on at home. Southampton is used to the fast-paced FieldTurf it uses on its home field, while Wyandanch usually has a natural grass surface, which slows things down a bit. To counteract that change, Riley had his players practice on grass before last week’s game, but it was all for naught.
The field at Wyandanch wasn’t in the greatest shape, as it was mostly a dirt field, which made the game even faster. The field conditions threw his players for a loop, Riley said.
“We also had the wind to our backs the first half so all of our chances kept getting away from us,” he said. “Every time there was a scrum for the ball there was just this dust pile and you couldn’t really see what was going on.”
In last week’s victory over Greenport, the Mariners built up a sizable 5-1 first-half lead. Southampton then went on to shut out Greenport 3-0 in the second half. Milos Djurasic had a hat trick while LaGuardia and fellow senior Andrew Gardner scored, as did junior Israel Osorno and sophomores Gianluca Santacruz and Jesse Scanlon.
Southampton turns its attention to Mattituck and Hampton Bays this week. Both Mattituck and Hampton Bays appear to be viable playoff contenders this season. Riley said his team is trying its best to take one game at a time this season.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Thursday, 9/17, vs. Hampton Bays, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, 9/23, at Greenport, 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 9/25, vs. Babylon, 6 p.m.