To take a look at the two teams’ lineups on paper, it could have been expected to be a one-sided afternoon, favoring the visitors.
The Harborfields boys soccer team’s eight varsity starters returning from last season was a stark contrast to the Westhampton Beach lineup that put six sophomores and a freshman on the field at the opening whistle. However, the Hurricanes held their own against the seasoned Tornadoes squad, losing 1-0 at home in the League V opener for both teams on September 12.
“They are so young and they’re still learning the system,” Westhampton Beach coach Don O’Brien said. “We knew they would be bigger and faster than us but overall I thought we played well.”
He continued: “They’re going to get better every game and the more they play together the better they will get. Being as young as we are, we’re overmatched in every game with size and speed. There’s nothing we can do about that.”
Tornado Klan Khajooei scored the lone goal of the game with 10 minutes to go in the first half, drilling the ball into the lower left corner of the net past a diving Ryan Burke.
Burke made seven saves for Westhampton Beach. Burke, who had been away from the soccer field for a number of years, looked sharp in his first league contest.
“He controls the box, he comes out and gets crosses,” O’Brien said of his keeper. “He’s very athletic. I thought he had a very good game.”
The Hurricanes were slated to travel to Comsewogue on September 17 and then followed with a pair of home non-league contests, against Bayport/Blue Point on September 20 and Mattituck on September 21. Westhampton Beach returns to league play on September 23 at home against Islip.
The Lady Hurricanes wrapped up their non-league season with a 3-2 loss at home against William Floyd on September 12, and while the game ended on a losing note, head coach Erika Habersaat is pleased with the progress her team made up to the opening of league play, scheduled for September 16 at Harborfields.
“I tried to schedule bigger schools for the non-league games because they tend to be more physical and play quicker,” Habersaat said. “I definitely think that helped us to see that pace of game because we do have a pretty challenging schedule.
She continued: “There’s a good vibe on the team, there’s good team unity. We’re starting to understand positioning and the system. I think they are starting to click.”
In the loss to Floyd, Arianna Riemma-Cascone scored both of her team’s goals, one in each half, the first coming on an assist from Julianne Robbins and the second on a penalty kick.
Kathleen Mensch made eight saves for the Lady Canes.
While there has been progress made, Habersaat said there are still some aspects of the game that need to be fine-tuned for her team.
“Some people are playing in different positions so, what I saw, we just missed the mark on some things but the ideas were there,” she said. “Hopefully moving forward we’ll get a feel for each other and some of the little points we missed will come together and we’ll start hitting them.”
The Lady Hurricanes had a light week and were scheduled to play only one game, against Comsewogue on the road on September 18.