Gabriel Guazhambo didn’t see his shot cross the goal line, but his ears told him it did.
While lying down on the ground, Guazhambo heard the reaction to his first goal of the season — and the biggest goal of his life.
With the score tied at 2-2 and the contest looking destined for overtime, Carlos Guzman drove a ball across the Newfield goalmouth that Guazhambo got a foot to. A Newfield defender tried in vain to keep the ball from crossing the goal line with 55 seconds remaining in the Suffolk County League III boys soccer game. Then Guazhambo heard what must have sounded like music to his ears.
“I just heard the applause and I heard everybody” screaming, said the Riverhead Blue Waves junior forward.
The goal stood as the game-winner for Riverhead’s first league victory, a wild 3-2 triumph over the Wolverines on Monday in Riverhead.
“It was a big step forward,” said Riverhead’s rookie coach, Lamine Traore, who received his first red card to go with his first league win.
Patience and tempers were running short, but there was no shortage of action, cards and goals. A total of 10 cards were issued, including red cards to Riverhead defender Abner Ortiz and Traore with about 22 minutes left in the game. Ortiz had drawn a yellow card for a foul and then received a red card for dissent seconds later. Traore expressed his displeasure over those calls, and then received a double yellow himself.
“I just let my emotions take over,” Traore said. “I should have known better, but I don’t think what I did was wrong. All I did was ask [the referee], ‘What did you do?’ ”
Riverhead’s assistant coach, Andrew Aleksandrowicz, took over the team while Traore watched the remainder of the match from a car in a nearby parking lot.
Both teams had taken one-goal leads and then tied the score before Guazhambo’s dramatic strike.
The game’s first two shots resulted in goals. In the opening minutes, a long cross-field ball from Sam Durkot found Sean Hageman on the left flank, setting him free for a shot that gave Newfield a 1-0 lead.
Riverhead (3-5, 1-5) didn’t wait long to reply. Jordan Fulcoly, after receiving a pass from Devrim Kucuk, used his right foot to find the mark.
Before the half ended, Fulcoly set up Riverhead’s go-ahead goal by Andrew Ruggerio, a laser he drilled from some 35 yards away, beating goalkeeper Darrin Kaiser to the low right corner.
Eli Whyte provided Newfield (4-6, 2-4) with a second-half equalizer. A blast by Hageman was blocked by goalkeeper Selvin Morales, but Whyte was in place to deposit the rebound into the net.
This game was also about the goals that weren’t. Riverhead held a 22-9 advantage in shots, but both sides had squandered opportunities.
Morales deserves credit for limiting the damage done by Newfield’s dangerous attack. He made seven saves, handled two crosses and picked up seven balls in his penalty area.
“I had to give it everything,” he said.
Morales was also responsible for the best save of the day, a brilliant diving parry of a drive struck by Durkot. The freshman also made a nice reflex save, sticking out his left leg to deny Hageman.
“He’s just a life-saver,” said Traore.
Later, Hageman was alone, charging toward the goal, when he attempted to chip the ball over Morales, only to see the goalie pluck the ball out of the air. Morales also made a great stop on a left-footed effort by Whyte.
“At 2-2, we had five golden chances to finish the game off and we didn’t,” Newfield Coach Jamie Santiago said. “When you let a hungry team hang around, that’s what happens, and it was basically our fault for letting them hang around. We had a chance to kill the game off and we didn’t.”
Then again, Riverhead had close calls of its own. In a scramble off a free kick, Guzman sent the ball off the left goalpost. An attempt by Demar Mason was cleared off the goal line. A dangerous Kucuk header off a Fulcoly corner kick came close but missed the mark.
Morales said his team’s heart won the day. “We gave it all we had,” he said, “and we just kept playing and playing and playing.”
What did the game say about the Blue Waves?
“Riverhead’s team has the talent,” Traore said. “We just need to believe it. … You saw it. We can do it.”