Maidstone Market, the Yankees of East Hampton men’s soccer, advanced to last night’s spring-summer 7-on-7 final by shutting out Bateman Painting 2-0 at Herrick Park on July 25.
Tortorella Pools earned the other finalist’s spot by upsetting 75 Main, the top seed, 2-1.
Bateman played the Market toe-to-toe in the first half, which ended scoreless. But it shot itself in the foot in the second frame as the result of a yellow card handed out by the referee, Alex Ramirez, to Juan Zuluaga for entering the game without his permission.
Owing to the yellow card — later Ramirez said it should have been a red given the fact that Zuluaga had received a card in the first half for taking Mario Olaya down from behind — Bateman had to play a man-down, and the Market, with a powerful lineup that included Gehider Garcia, Luis Correa, Antonio Padilla, Esteban Valverde, and Olaya, who led East Hampton High School’s team to its first-ever county championship last fall, took full advantage.
Until the unraveling, Bateman’s Jon Pineda came closest to scoring with his hard header off the right post early in the second half.
Soon after, Carlos Cardenas, who played excellently in Bateman’s goal despite being a backup, went down after he and Correa disputed a pass back to him that almost proved fatal. After a minute or two on the ground, he stayed in the game.
Midway through the period, Bateman was presented with another great chance when, with Alex Meza, Maidstone’s goalie, caught out of position, Marco Bautista, who had camped out at the undefended left corner of the cage, slipped as a ground-hugging pass from Pineda arrived. And just before Zuluaga’s ejection, one of his teammates, Winston Reid, got off a nice low shot that went just wide right.
After the carding, however, Bateman’s defenders could no longer hold Maidstone off. Matthew Romero, a defender, got the Market on the board with about 10 minutes remaining as, crouching low, he wheeled on the ball at close range and rocketed a shot by Bateman’s tall keeper into the left corner. Soon after, Olaya, who’s vying with Gehider Garcia for the league’s “golden boot” award, scored on a breakaway to clinch the big win.
Going into the final, Olaya had seven goals and Garcia had six. Correa, who has frequently been the league’s high-scorer in the past, had four, as did 75 Main’s Cesar Galea.
As for July 25th’s first game, between 75 Main and Tortorella, the latter, with two goals by Steven Orrego, proved to be the stronger team that night, although it had been defeated twice by 75 Main in the regular season.
Orrego’s first score came in the first half after he’d received a pass from Eddie Lopez. Cesar Correa got 75 Main on the board before the halftime break, heading in a cross from Alfredo Negrete that beat Tortorella’s very able goalie, Craig Caiazza.
“Correa’s goal gave 75 Main a lift,” Leslie Czeladko wrote on the league’s Web site, “but it didn’t last long as Tortorella continued to attack. Standing just inside the penalty box, Orrego, after receiving a pass from David Rodriguez, hit the ball softly toward the left corner as Olger Araya, 75 Main’s goalie, came rushing out. With everyone watching, the ball rolled slowly across the line into the goal.”
The Restaurateurs applied a lot of pressure after that, but Caiazza proved up to it, though he received some significant help from Rene Gutierrez, who preserved the win by kicking away a goal-bound ball at the right post near game’s end.
“It was nice to beat them finally,” Gutierrez said afterward.
Maidstone Market, whose manager is John Romero, has won seven straight 7-on-7 championships. In the fall final, Romero’s team cruised to a 3-0 victory over Tuxpan, and last July the Market shut out Tortorella 2-0 in a hard-fought final, taking advantage of two defensive errors.