A battle royal took place on East Hampton High’s soccer pitch Monday afternoon, a nonleague clash between the defending county Class A and B champions, and in the end it was East Hampton, the class A champ, that came out the winner, by a score of 1-0, early in the second overtime period.
The hotly and well-contested game prompted the referees afterward to agree that these two teams were, aside from Brentwood, perhaps the best in the county.
Led by Kaan Ilgin, a striker who can bend ’em like Beckham, and a fellow striker, Mario Arreola, the visitors from the North Fork gave East Hampton — especially its junior goalie, Nick Tulp — everything it could handle.
Rich King, Bonac’s coach, had Nick West, always a threat to score, help anchor the defense, a wise move as it turned out given the fact that West, who was to be moved up to the forward line in O.T., parried numerous Tucker attacks.
As aforesaid, of the two goalies, it was Tulp who worked up more of a sweat. He made the save of the day when, in the 36th minute, he came out to rob Arreola, who had dashed in and fired from point-blank range.
Following a scoreless first half, East Hampton put more pressure on in the second, though, with Mattituck’s defense pulled way up, it was difficult for Donte Donegal and Esteban Valverde to work their magic.
The Bonackers were awarded plenty of corner kicks — six in all, three in each of the halves — most of which were taken by West, but couldn’t convert.
As was largely the case with Bonac’s strikers, Mattituck’s had to content themselves with shooting from well beyond the box in the second frame, though at around the 70th minute Bryan Oreamuno, an East Hampton defender, prevented what appeared to be a certain goal as he blocked a hard header near the left post that found Tulp out of position.
With regulation having ended in a scoreless tie, it was up to the coaches as to whether they’d go into overtime, and they agreed to do so.
With West now up on the front line, with Donegal and Valverde, East Hampton’s chances looked good, though there was no scoring in the first 10-minute O.T.
East Hampton went with the setting sun in the second, and almost immediately its forwards drew a foul at around the 25-yard line. West, facing a “wall,” took the free kick from the right side, the angle looked promising. Spectators were thinking, ‘Upper left corner’ when he let the high shot go.
The blast clanged down from the underside of the crossbar where Nick Quiroz, a senior midfielder who had come off the bench that day, alertly deposited the rebound into the lower left corner of Mattituck’s nets.
“Mattituck is a legitimate team, one of the top B teams in the state,” King reminded during some questioning afterward. “They were state semifinalists last year.”
As for his team, which has set high goals as usual, including a county three-peat and Long Island and state championships, which would be firsts, East Hampton’s coach said, “We’re still a work in progress. I doubt we’ll have a finished product for some weeks yet . . . some kids are banged up. . . .”
Still, he had to be happy with that win.
Earlier in the week, East Hampton bested Hampton Bays in a scrimmage, and shut out Southampton 2-0 in a nonleaguer, pretty much dominating play.
League play is to begin here Tuesday with Mount Sinai, and very tough Saturday nonleaguers loom with St. Anthony’s — away on the night of Sept. 21 — and at Jericho (which bested East Hampton in the Long Island game the past two years) on Sept. 28.