The league-champion East Hampton High School boys soccer team is to vie with Sayville for the Class A county title this afternoon at Dowling College as the result of an exciting 3-1 win here Monday over arch rival Elwood-John Glenn, with which the Bonackers had recently played to a 3-3 tie that enabled East Hampton to win the league title.
J.C. Barrientos, assisted by Mario Olaya, Denis Espana, assisted by Nick West, and Esteban Valverde, with an assist from Olaya, scored East Hampton’s goals while East Hampton’s slightly-rearranged defense clamped down on Glenn’s stars, its tricky senior midfielder, Francis Dela Agbotse, and the equally dangerous junior forward, Adan Cruz-Velasquez. Angel Garces was assigned to Dela Agbotse, and marked him well, throwing a monkey wrench into Glenn’s transition game, and Jerjes Alban was moved back from stopper to sweeper for extra strength in the back.
Glenn’s set plays, however, always present problems because those who take them, Greg Orkiszewski, and David Sherman, can lay the ball into the goal mouth just about every time the chance is presented. On Monday, there were plenty of such opportunities, though the visitors were only able to capitalize on one as, in the 63rd minute, after Esteban Aguilar, who played perhaps his best game thus far in the goal, let a shot get by after stopping two others.
No matter. No sooner had Glenn got on the scoreboard than Valverde, assisted by Olaya, got that goal back.
Midway through the first period East Hampton, whose multi-pass attack is relentless, put a lot of pressure on Glenn’s keeper, but couldn’t put the ball by him until Jean Carlos Barrientos — with Olaya assisting — did from close range with seven minutes left until the half.
Five minutes earlier, Dela Agbotse had blown a golden opportunity after he’d juked a defender and let one go from the right side that, happily for Bonac fans, zipped wide left.
Thus East Hampton could hardly rest easy with that one-goal lead. With nine minutes having been played in the second period, Aguilar, as he did on numerous occasions that day, leapt high to save a 30-yard free kick headed for the left corner of the cage.
Soon after, he did it again, parrying a kick from the 20. And so it went for Aguilar, who showed that he’s benefited from the instruction he’s received recently on how to respond to air balls.
In the 58th minute, East Hampton, which had been awarded a corner kick, made it 2-0 as Espana headed home a corner kick that had been taken by West.
Five minutes later came the aforementioned Glenn goal, by Zach Zambuto, which made the score 2-1, and, 30 seconds after that, Valverde’s stunning reply, which effectively clinched East Hampton’s second county final appearance in the past three seasons.
There was one close call left to come when, in the 73rd minute, Cruz-Velasquez got around Alban at about the 30 yardline and went in on Aguilar one-on-one. Undaunted, Aguilar came out and made a sliding save that electrified East Hampton’s fans.
When the celebrating was over, King, who couldn’t talk to the team initially afterward because he was a bit choked up, told his players that it had been “a great win — you played really well. But we’re not going to be happy just getting to the county final. We want to bring back the title this time.”