WILDCATS 3, HURRICANES 2
For a moment, it looked like another missed opportunity.
Shoreham-Wading River junior Charles DeMaio raced toward the Westhampton goal with only one defender in front of him. He chased down the ball with the game tied at 2 and time ticking away in the second overtime period at Shoreham-Wading River High School.
Just as he reached the ball, so did Westhampton’s last defender. With a chance for a breakaway, DeMaio instead saw the ball go sailing high into the air and behind him as both players got a foot on it.
Seconds later, DeMaio got another chance. He didn’t miss.
DeMaio scored the game-winning goal to lift the fourth-seeded Wildcats to a 3-2 victory in the first round of the Class A playoffs, a game Shoreham twice trailed by a goal.
“At first when I basically messed up I thought it was over,” DeMaio said. “I just saw the ball fly across and I made a run for it.”
After DeMaio just missed at getting a breakaway, the ball ended up back across midfield on the Shoreham side. Junior midfielder Kevin Turano got a hold of it and sent a long pass back into the Westhampton end, sending DeMaio on another run.
Westhampton goalkeeper Joe Ogeka raced out of the goal to try to get the ball first but it bounced over him. DeMaio, who assisted the first two goals, got around him and another defender, maintained possession and calmly made a sliding shot with his left foot to put the ball into the open net, sparking a wild celebration on the field.
“It’s basically like instinct at this point,” DeMaio said of the last play.
“Charles has scored a lot of goals for us this year,” said Shoreham coach Andrew Moschetti, who earned his first postseason victory since taking over the program in 2009. “Like I said to him when he came off, it doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to go into the back of the net. With him, it’s all about hustle. That ball went over the goalie, through the defender. Charles doesn’t stop.”
DeMaio’s goal sends the Wildcats into the semifinals for the first time since 2006 when the reached the county finals before losing to Islip. Shoreham lost in the quarterfinals each of the past four seasons. Next up is top-seeded Sayville Monday afternoon on the road.
The Wildcats (11-4-2) had plenty of chances late in the game and in overtime before DeMaio finally ended it. Their best came with about two minutes left in the first overtime period when the Wildcats broke free in transition. Junior Greg Canellys delivered a pass to senior Toni Domingues, who had an open lane toward the goal. His shot missed the net wide left.
“I was pretty angry after that one,” Domingues said. “I thought I definitely should have finished that one.”
The Wildcats persevered, just as they did all game when falling behind 1-0 and 2-1.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” Moschetti said. “It would have been very disappointing if we had lost. But the resiliency of the team and not to give up and not to put their heads down shows me that these guys want to win.”
Domingues said the Wildcats have been a come-from-behind team all season.
“A lot of teams out there just think that we’re a hard-working team,” he said. “But we’re also very skilled.”
Domingues scored the Wildcats’ first goal in the 35th minute to tie the game at 1. The play was set up by a free kick from near midfield. DeMaio controlled the ball in front of the goal, passed to his right to Domingues who put it inside the left post.
After the Hurricanes (10-6-1) regained the lead in the second half, the Wildcats needed only seven minutes before they tied it again. Senior Nick Araugo bounced a ball off the left post and into the net in the 54th minute.
The Wildcats won for the second straight time by a 3-2 score against Westhampton. The teams met Oct. 24 at Shoreham and the Wildcats’ win proved to be the difference for home field advantage. Rather than playing on Westhampton’s turf field, where the Hurricanes could better utilize their speed, the Wildcats hosted the game on their soft, muddy, grass field.
“It really helps to slow down the game,” DeMaio said.
Eric Hayes put the Hurricanes on the board first in the 17th minute. Furkan Akyol scored their second goal to put the Hurricanes back in front in the 47th minute.
Shoreham goalkeeper Evan Kearney stopped 4 shots and Ogeka had eight for Westhampton.
When the Wildcats last reached a county final in 2006, they defeated Sayville in the semifinals in an epic victory that came down to penalty kicks.
“We got nothing to lose,” Moschetti said. “Sayville’s the reigning state champ, they’re the one seed. We’re going to go into that with our heads up.”