Best Effort In King’s Tenure

The players contested every ball
Nick Quiroz (26) is one of a number of players — others being Bryan Ordonez, Christian Calle, Jonathan Chunchi, and Lucas Escobar — who have stepped up recently. Craig Macnaughton

   The East Hampton High School boys soccer team repeated as the League VI champion here Saturday, routing Amityville, the only team that had beaten it during the regular season, by a score of 4-1.
    The visitors’ goal, by way of a penalty kick resulting from an inadvertent hands ball in the penalty box, came late in the game, long after everything had been decided.
    Rich King, East Hampton’s coach, told his charges afterward that it was the best team effort he’d witnessed in his four or five years of coaching. There had been great individual efforts during his tenure, he said, but never such a uniformly strong one.
    The players contested every ball, won the vast majority of those scrums, and persistently attacked throughout the entire 80 minutes.
    And this despite the fact that Donte Donegal, the team’s best header and one of its top scorers, began the game on the bench, one of several players who have suffered injuries lately, among them Christian Barrientos, a starter who sustained an ankle fracture during a 2-2 tie here with Shoreham-Wading River on Oct. 16.
    Donegal, who is dealing with a strained hip flexor, broke the ice, however, heading in a Nick West corner kick 12 minutes into the fray after having almost imperceptibly entered the game as East Hampton and Amityville were preparing for West’s chip across the goal mouth. As soon as he’d treated East Hampton to a 1-0 lead, the tall junior, limping slightly, made his way back to the sidelines, where he said a few minutes later that the ball had made its way to him off a defender’s foot.
    Esteban Valverde, a sophomore forward who is always a threat to score — as is his classmate West — made it 2-0 with five minutes left until the halftime break, converting a right-to-left cross from Bryan Ordonez. Ordonez, in turn, had gathered in a long pass from J.C. Barrientos, the hard-working senior center midfielder, who that day seemed to be everywhere.
    After the game was over, King especially praised the four or five players who in the past week have been called on to step up and have. One of those, Jonathan Chunchi, who had been on the junior varsity until Friday, banged a shot off the crossbar seven minutes into the second half.
    In the 57th minute, it looked as if Valverde, who’d received a pass from Ordonez, had made it 3-0, but the official nearest the play maintained that Valverde, who had cut in from the right, was offside, a ruling that King described as “godawful.”
    In the 63rd minute, however, Denis Espana, a defensive stalwart (along with Alex Serna, Alvaro Aguilar, and Lucas Escobar, among others) helped to make it 3-0, lofting a wind-aided free kick into the box from 50 yards out that Valverde head-flicked into the nets.
    Barrientos applied the coup de grace when, in the 69th minute, after receiving a pass from West, he juked the visitors’ goalie, Ronald Herrera, and tapped the ball over the line.
    Amityville’s lone goal, with seven minutes left to play, came as a result of a penalty kick by Ryan Doyle, a senior midfielder.
    Afterward, King said he and his assistant, Don McGovern, hoped to have Donegal healthy for the playoffs, which are to begin next Thursday. East Hampton, which was to have finished the regular season at Bayport-Blue Point on Tuesday, will be the second-seeded Class A team, behind Sayville, the coach said.