With their high-scoring field leader, Mario Olaya, absent because he had allegedly celebrated excessively East Hampton’s first county championship in the program’s 35-year history at Dowling College three days before, the East Hampton Bonackers lost 2-1 to Jericho in the Class A Long Island boys soccer championship game played at Adelphi University in Garden City Sunday.
“Mario came to the pregame meal we had at the high school, and he was the first one there to greet us when we came back,” said Rich King, East Hampton’s head coach, who has called the red-carding of Olaya for having taken his shirt off during celebrations of East Hampton’s 2-1 win last Thursday over defending state champion Sayville, a win that earned the Bonackers the county Class A title, “an absolute injustice . . . almost criminal.”
“We had a golden opportunity early, about seven or eight minutes into the game,” said King in recounting Sunday’s game, “when J.C. [Barrientos] had an outstanding run from midfield, dribbling by two or three defenders, and passed to Milton [Farez] in the six-yard box. Their goalkeeper came out. Milton’s first shot hit a defender in the back. He got the rebound and pushed it just wide from about four yards out. That would have been the game-changer. Otherwise, the first half was even. It was scoreless at halftime.”
Jericho, which had edged Island Trees 1-0 in Nassau’s Class A county championship game, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second half, the first score resulting from a cross into the box that “was misplayed by a defender. Esteban [Aguilar, East Hampton’s goalie] was out of position to stop the shot.”
A long throw-in and a flicked header to the far post from about six yards out accounted for Jericho’s second goal with about 16 minutes left to play.
During the final minutes, said King, “we pushed players forward and generated two or three great chances — a cross through the box that no one came onto, a shot by Donte [Donegal] inside the 12 that their keeper made a diving save of. . . . We scored our goal with about seven minutes to play. Angel [Garces] shot off the post; Milton got the rebound and buried it. We continued to put pressure on after that, but couldn’t quite get it done.”
“The kids were devastated — they were ready to make a run at the state championship. Don [McGovern, King’s assistant] and I are very proud of the way they represented this school and the community throughout the entire season. They play a very attractive style of soccer with such skill and emotion and energy. They’re a hard team to beat. They take care of things academically, they’re leaders in the school. . . . This loss will make the kids who are coming back even hungrier next year. Our level of expectations going forward are very high.”