The Southampton boys soccer team stamped its ticket into the Suffolk County Class B playoffs with a 2-1 victory at Hampton Bays on October 9. It’s the sixth straight season the Mariners have made the playoffs under Dave Riley, who is in his eighth season as head coach at Southampton.
Hampton Bays clinched with a 3-2 victory at Port Jefferson on Friday, setting the field for the postseason. Center Moriches (6-1-1 League VII, 8-1-1 overall) also clinched last week with a 2-0 victory at Wyandanch. Mattituck (8-1 League VII, 9-2 overall) had already clinched earlier this season. Which teams will be seeded where is still to be determined with three to four games remaining on each team’s schedule.
The scoring in Southampton’s win over Hampton Bays got started last week just under 10 minutes into the game. Hampton Bays senior goalie Joe Calamita and his defenders were waiting for the ball to go out of bounds for a goal kick when, out of nowhere, Southampton junior Ale Rojas made a heads up play and kept the ball in with a cross into the box where senior teammate Andrew Gardner was alone with an empty net. Gardner kicked the ball in easily and Southampton had an early 1-0 lead.
“Just a bizarre, unlucky goal,” Hampton Bays head coach John Paga said. “Nine out of 10 times that ball rolls out of bounds. Hats off to [Rojas] for playing hard on the play. It was just a miscommunication between my goalie and one of the defenders. It was a little deflating because I thought we came out really well. It was just a really bad goal to give up.”
It didn’t take all that long for the Baymen to respond though. In the 21st minute, senior Bayman Andres Tapia was able to sneak past the Southampton defense, which was expecting an off-sides call, and he buried his shot to tie the game.
Both teams had chances to break the 1-1 tie in the second half, but it was Southampton that capitalized. The Mariners brought up a strong front line and pressured the Baymen in their own box. With 13 minutes remaining in the game, Elliot LaGuardia, with multiple players on him, found Artur Barbosa with a through ball in the box and Barbosa scored to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead and eventual victory.
“I thought that goal was well orchestrated by the guys,” Southampton head coach Dave Riley said. “It was the type of beautiful play they are capable of but don’t always show.”
Paga said that it was a defensive breakdown on his team’s part and it failed to mark-up on the handful of players Southampton brought up to its front line. But the Baymen had their chances to tie the game. Tapia came in on a breakaway twice and was stopped by Southampton junior goalie Garrett Pike once and had another ball go wide of the goal. And then with five minutes remaining in the game, Southampton freshman Hunter West—who was helping fill the void left by senior Ben Pereira, junior Kevin Dexter, and sophomore Jesse Scanlon, who are all injured—cleared the ball out of Southampton’s defensive end with a header.
“It was a big win against a good team,” Riley said. “While we certainly had some super sharp moments, we did have some difficulties. However, overall, I was very happy with our composure and the team’s effort. They fed the corners consistently in the second half, and Ale and Ezekiel [Martinez] did great keeping the ball in play despite the cross-field wind.”
Paga thought his team played well enough to win.
“I think we had more quality scoring chances,” he said. “We had that bad goal to start the game. We left four or five really good chances on the field in the second half.”
Both teams played a very clean game after the first time the two faced each other was marred by a late-game altercation on September 19, which resulted in both team’s players ejected and the game called with 18 seconds remaining. Southampton also won that game 2-1.
But on Wednesday, there were no problems, helped by the fact that there were three officials—there are normally two. Also, both team’s captains—Southampton’s Stefan Djurasic and Kevin Quintero of Hampton Bays—read the rules and regulations of Section XI before the game to the crowd. Section XI is the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics.
Iquia had two goals in the playoff-clinching victory last week at Port Jefferson, which proved to be a tough game for Hampton Bays. Iquia scored 13 seconds into the game but the Royals tied things up halfway through the first half.
Hampton Bays came out strong in the second half. Iquia pushed through two defenders to score his second of the game, then sophomore Cristian Loaiza scored on a nice volley from Tapia to make it 3-1.
With 12 minutes remaining in the game, the Baymen gave up what Paga called an easy goal but they were able to hold on for the victory.
“It wasn’t easy by any means but we got the win we needed,” Paga said. It’s the sixth straight season Hampton Bays has made the playoffs.
Paga explained that there are scenarios where his team could end up being the two-seed by the time playoffs roll around on October 30, but that he’s not too worried about that. He just wants his team to finish strong.
“We lost two really tough ones to Southampton and we lost to Center Moriches,” he said. “We could easily be 8-0 if a couple of breaks go our way, but we could be 3-5 too. I think the league is as strong as it’s ever been and we just have to keep playing well.”
ON THE SCHEDULE: Southampton—Wednesday, 10/16, at Babylon; Friday, 10/18, at Center Moriches, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10.19, vs. Pierson, 7 p.m. Hampton Bays—Wednesday, 10/16, vs. Wyandanch; Saturday, 10/19, at Mattituck, 2 p.m.; Tuesday, 10/22, vs. Center Moriches, 4 p.m.