As they headed into overtime against stubborn Massapequa, none of the Huntington boys’ soccer team’s players seemed particularly worried. The Blue Devils always believe that somehow they will find a way to win and Luis Ortiz showed their faith isn’t misguided.
Ortiz drilled a shot into the net from 25 yards out a mere three minutes into the extra frame to lift Huntington to a 2-1 non-league sudden death victory before a frenzied crowd at Blue Devil Stadium.
The teams played a scoreless first half. Frank Schmidt put Massapequa ahead 1-0 with a goal early in the second half. Huntington junior Alex Rivera tied the score on a volley from teammate Freddy Amador about 10 minutes into the second half and the score stayed knotted through the end of regulation. When Ortiz had an opportunity to win it for the Blue Devils he did, off a blistering free kick.
Huntington’s defense and goalie Nat Amato once again came through when it counted most. Head coach John Amato and assistant coach Jason Suarez have the Blue Devils playing so well the team is ranked No. 15 in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA poll. Among Suffolk teams, only Commack and Northport are ranked higher.
“Right off the bat we didn’t let Massapequa breathe by putting pressure on them,” Rivera said. “Both of our goals came from high press and being where we’re supposed to be. Playing out to the flanks and Nat making key saves also allowed us to outwork the team. We’re taking it one game at a time and not looking ahead to the others. Winning the league is our main priority right now and it’s surely in our hands. Once we accomplish this we will definitely make a moving to bringing the county title where it belongs.”
Massapequa gave Huntington all it could handle in the non-league affair. Chiefs’ goalie Anthony Guerriere stopped nine shots. “The key was to play the ball outside and for our quick wingers to cross the ball for many goal scoring opportunities, which they couldn’t handle,” Blue Devil junior midfield Eren Aydin said. “The plan for the rest of the season is to take care of business one game at a time and keep training hard and we will win ourselves a trophy with the talent we have this year.”
Huntington’s stellar defense and its goalie have been a big part of the team’s success. The Blue Devils field leader, Amato has been splendid this fall. “I think we’re playing well and we’re on track to make a run in the playoffs,” he said.
Pagano and Suarez both coached their hearts out, directing players from the sideline and inspiring them during breaks in the action. “I think the key was attacking and moving the ball fast to the sides,” Amador said. “I think that we are doing really good job. I think that we can win the county. We are going to work hard every practice and keep winning.”
Huntington is showing Long Island that the team’s success is for real. The Blue Devils are 9-1-1 (6-0-1 in Suffolk League III).
Pagano scheduled the non-league game to keep his team on its toes and from that perspective it served its purpose. “The key to our victory lay in our ability to out-possess Massapequa,” senior defensive specialist Aidan Forbes said. “I think so long as we stick to passing the ball smoothly on the ground we have the potential to win our league and do really well in playoffs.”