The East Hampton Football Club, the first men’s soccer team from here to compete Islandwide in 30 or so years, made its home debut at the Ross School Sunday afternoon, and, as expected, impressed.
Perhaps it’s too early to call this aggregation of the area’s most talented players a juggernaut, though it could well prove to be, certainly in Division 3 play.
With short “tiki-taka” passes, East Hampton, anchored by its imposing center midfielder, Diego Marles, moved the ball at will for the entire 90 minutes as Panatha’s defenders desperately tried to catch up, and wound up winning 4-0.
As a result, East Hampton took over sole possession of first place in the East group of the Long Island Soccer Football League’s third division with a 2-0-0 record and 6 points. In its first two games, it has outscored the opposition 12 goals to 1.
Panatha, based in Riverdale in the Bronx, is one of three former Greek-American League teams to play in the L.I.S.F.L. this fall. The week before, said its coach, Nicholas Kolotouros, Panatha had defeated Hicksville 4-3. Likewise, East Hampton, jointly coached by John Romero and Luis Barrera, that week had defeated Rockville Centre 8-1.
East Hampton’s starters were Mario Olaya, Ivan Meza, John Romero Jr., Gehider Garcia, Eddie Lopez, Marles, Antonio Padilla, Rodolfo Marin, Piedra Missael, Gerber Garcia, and Corey De Rosa, the latter in the goal.
Jefferson Ramirez, one of the team’s chief scoring threats, who’s nursing a quadriceps pull, was among those on the sidelines.
Meza was the first to shoot, receiving a pass from Olaya, who had stolen the ball from a Panatha defender in the early minutes. But he misfired, the ball sailing high over the crossbar.
Moments later, Meza, with Marles feeding him, rocketed a shot off the near post, and in the ninth minute a free kick taken by Marles also rebounded hard off the near post.
Gehider Garcia, assisted by Olaya, put East Hampton on the board in the 18th minute, capping a play that began with a Romero steal near the midfield line.
De Rosa faced his first challenge in the 29th minute when Panatha was awarded a free kick by the referee, Robin Sultan, at the edge of the box. A “wall” of five defenders blocked it, however, and, moments later, Olaya, who’d received a long pass from Marles, was tripped in Panatha’s box, a foul that resulted in a penalty shot, which he easily made, striking the ball on the outside of his right foot.
The halftime score was 2-0, and East Hampton’s players were upbeat, knowing they could pretty much move the ball at will.
In the 58th minute Olaya again was tripped in the box after he’d almost made it singlehandedly through a clutch of defenders. This time, he blasted the penalty kick high into the upper left corner of Panatha’s goal for a 3-0 lead.
In the 69th minute, Danny Bedoya, who’d been among several players brought in off the bench in the second half, rocketed a shot into the high right corner of Panatha’s nets from about 20 yards out — the prettiest goal of the day.
East Hampton, despite the comfortable margin, continued to attack. A minute after Bedoya’s score, Panatha’s goalie came out to foil Meza, barely. Sultan blew the final whistle as East Hampton was countering a cleared Panatha corner kick.
“I think we played great, especially considering that as time went on they became increasingly frustrated by our superior skill level and there was a lot of pulling,” De Rosa said afterward.
“We’re very happy that the Ross School has let us play and practice here [on Wednesday and Friday evenings] for free,” added Romero.
His and De Rosa’s applications to play at East Hampton High School and at Sag Harbor’s Mashashimuet Park had been turned down.
East Hampton’s roster, aside from the above-named, includes Jose Almansa, Cristian Gonzalez, Hector Marles, Stiven Orrego, Leonel Uchupaille, Josh Vargas, and Darlin Veliz Garcia.
East Hampton, under the Hampton United Football Club banner, also has an entry in the 12-team Suffolk Men’s Soccer League’s over-30 division. As of Monday, it was tied, at 2-0-0, with Charruas 1950 and Manorville for first place.