The East Hampton High School boys soccer team played to a hard-fought 3-3 double-overtime tie with Elwood-John Glenn here Monday to win its second league championship in the past three years.
In two 10-minute “sudden death” OTs, the relentless Bonackers, as they had throughout the game, pounded Glenn’s goal, though somehow the visitors, who with the setting sun in their eyes packed the goal mouth, managed to avert a loss.
It wasn’t entirely one-sided, however, as Esteban Aguilar, East Hampton’s goalie, was called upon to make a beautiful save of a hard-hit direct kick by Glenn’s Greg Orkiszewski taken midway through the first OT. But, by and large, it was Glenn’s goalie who came under fire as bids by Mario Olaya, Esteban Valverde, and Milton Farez, among others, went awry.
Had Glenn won the game and had it gone on to win its one remaining regular-season game, as expected, “they would have won the championship,” Rich King, East Hampton’s head coach, explained later. “So, obviously, today’s game was huge. We couldn’t be prouder of the kids. They’ve worked so hard all year and have done everything we’ve asked of them. We couldn’t be happier for them.”
When King and his assistant, Don McGovern, congratulated their players after the second overtime period — and thus the game — had ended, they circled together, whooped it up, and jumped up and down.
They’ll learn tomorrow where they’ll be seeded in the county tournament. King said Sayville, which has an undefeated record in League V and is the defending state champion, will obviously be up for the top seed. “We’re hoping for the number-one seed too,” said East Hampton’s coach, noting that Sayville had “a bad nonleague loss, but we’d be happy to be number-two. It will give us a home field advantage.” Two playoff wins here would enable East Hampton to go to the finals, as it did in 2009, the last year it won the league title. Glenn won it last year.
The Bonackers thus finished the regular season at 12-1-2 over all and 9-1-2 in league play.
The sole loss came at the hands, as it were, of Westhampton Beach, though East Hampton avenged that with a 2-1 win here on Oct. 19, a win that eliminated the Hurricanes from league championship contention.
Afterward, King told his charges that they could savor the victory “from here to the locker room,” alluding to the fact that games with Mount Sinai (which the Bonackers bested 4-1) and Glenn remained.
“We had the ball in their end of the field 90 percent of the time,” King said following the Westhampton win, in which Olaya scored both goals, converting a free kick from about 10 yards out and a penalty kick after having been taken down — for the second time in the game — in the penalty box.
Glenn, which East Hampton had defeated 3-1 earlier in the season, proved to be a formidable foe. Orkiszewski, a senior midfielder and one of the Knights’ captains, lofted free kicks into the goal mouth time and again, from midfield or beyond, and Glenn’s corner kicks were also nerve-racking.
The visitors, though they had two dangerous forwards in the long-legged Francis Dela Agbotse and Adan Cruz-Velasquez, did not quite have the weapons East Hampton had.
Farez broke the ice, sliding in to convert a pass from Valverde, who had been at the left edge of the box, 10 minutes and 23 seconds into the fray.
About 10 minutes later, Orkiszewski beat Angel Garces to tie the score.
With 5:26 left until the half, Esteban Vargas played the ball up to Olaya, who, despite being closely marked by Anthony Santagata, whipped the ball up high into the left corner of the nets for a 2-1 East Hampton lead.
But one minute later it was 2-2 as Santagata successfully deflected past Aguilar an Orkiszewski free kick from midfield into the goal mouth.
An East Hampton corner kick header bounced off the lower left goalpost with 3:35 to go, and just before the buzzer signaling the half Olaya and Glenn’s goalie came together in a jarring, leaping collision in the box.
In recent home games, the Bonackers have used to their advantage the wind (though there was none on Monday) and the lowering sun, but Glenn continued to play toe-to-toe in the second frame. In fact, it took a 3-2 lead early on, in the 43rd minute, as Cruz-Velasquez, who had received a long cross from Dela Agbotse, beat Alex Serna and rocketed a shot high into the nets. Serna was soon to atone, however, as he headed out what would have been a certain goal headed for the left corner.
In the 48th minute King replaced Vargas with Donte Donegal, a sophomore forward who recently returned to action following an early-season injury, and, in the 56th minute, moments after Serna’s heroics, Donegal came up big, blasting in from short range the goal that was to guarantee East Hampton the title.
In the 65th minute, Jerjes Albin, a staunch Bonac defender who constantly repelled Glenn’s attacks, played the ball up onto the feet of Farez, and the tough senior forward broke in on the goal one-on-one. It was the best chance of the day for either team, but somehow Farez was foiled, prompting moans from Bonac’s fans, who, 35 minutes later, were to walk off the field cheering.