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Boys Soccer: After scoreless draw, SWR drops playoff opener

10/29/2015 6:19 PM |

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Eighty minutes of regulation, 30 more of overtime and 10 combined penalty kicks all failed to yield a winner Thursday afternoon. So Shoreham-Wading River and Amityville marched on, another round of penalty kicks to eventually determine which team was bound for the Class A semifinals.

Standing between the pipes on the dirt field at Shoreham-Wading River High School for the Warriors was their 6-foot-5 co-captain, Kevin Ramirez. Shoreham senior Cameron Weber, a midfielder who stepped in as the Wildcats’ goalkeeper for the penalty kicks, lined up as the sixth shooter. He pounded the ball toward the left corner and Ramirez dove to his right to stop it, his second save of the PKs. On the next kick, Amityville’s other co-captain, senior Victor Cobos, drilled the ball inside the right post.

Cobos dropped onto his back as his teammates came sprinting from the midfield line to swarm him in a pile of jubilation.

After a scoreless draw, the Warriors had emerged victorious, 4-3, on penalty kicks, to advance to play John Glenn Wednesday while the Wildcats’ season came to an end.

“My captain making the save and my captain scoring the winning PK is tremendous,” said Amityville coach Mike Abbondondolo.

The two evenly matched teams fought for 110 minutes in a physical, fast-paced game where neither squad could ultimately convert its opportunities.

“I feel like on both sides it was more of a defensive overtime than an offensive overtime,” said Shoreham coach Andrew Moschetti. “Both teams played a very similar style during the game. There were chances back and forth, it’s just no one could convert.”

The Wildcats (10-5-2) shot first in the penalty kicks and converted their first three chances on goals by Doug DeMaio, Dan Mahoney and Patrick Tooker. The Warriors (12-5) evened the tally in the fourth round of kicks. Both team’s goalkeepers came up with saves in the fifth round, leaving it a 3-3 tie after 10 shots.

In the eight days off from the end of the regular season until Thursday’s game, the Wildcats ended every practice with penalty kicks. Moschetti said he gave both his goalkeepers, junior Nick Cusano and Weber, time in goal to see which player might be better equipped to handle the duties.

“We were trying a bunch of different guys in practice and Cameron did excellent,” Moschetti said. “So we decided to give him a shot if it happened.”

So while Cusano started in goal and played all 110 minutes, the Wildcats turned to Cameron in the PKs.

Shoreham defender Michael Donegan. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Shoreham defender Michael Donegan. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

For a team with 15 seniors, it was a bitter way to end a bounce-back season that exceeded anyone’s expectations outside of Shoreham. The Wildcats missed the playoffs the past two seasons and only one player on the current roster had experienced the postseason: DeMaio.

“They really talked before the season about those 15 guys wanting to get the playoffs for the first time as seniors,” Moschetti said.

They accomplished that goal and more. The Wildcats went 9-1-2 in League VI, finishing in second place behind John Glenn. They earned the No. 4 seed in the Class A playoffs, giving themselves a home game against the fifth-seeded Warriors, a League V team.

It was a close-knit group throughout, so much so that before the season, the team decided that designating captains was unnecessary.

“Those 15 guys really were leaders already,” Moschetti said.

Instead, the team picked three captains each game based on the players’ performance in the previous practice or game.

If there was another game to play, senior defender Kieran Clasen might have found himself in the mix for the designation. In a game where any mistake could lead to a deciding goal, Clasen was relentless in the back end and often found himself matched up with the Warriors’ top player, Josue Martinez.

It’s a familiar role Clasen has found himself in going back to last year.

“He’s our guy we’ve used to mark the best player on the opposing team,” Moschetti said. “Everybody’s got that dangerous guy who scores all their goals or sets up all their plays. Kieran’s the guy who takes that guy out.”

Both teams had their chances to break through in regulation. The Warriors hit a crossbar in each half. The second one almost appeared to even sneak in under the top of the crossbar before bouncing out.

The Warriors had plentiful opportunities to convert a set play. They finished the game with 12 corner kicks, but couldn’t generate many solid chances on them.

The Wildcats had some opportunities as well. The best came came during the first 15-minute overtime period. DeMaio chased down a ball into the box where Ramirez, the Warriors’ keeper, dove toward it. Ramirez couldn’t corral it, leaving DeMaio a chance to dribble back around to face the goal. As players scrambled back, DeMaio lofted a ball toward the far post and missed wide.

Abbondondolo said the Wildcats’ individual defensive efforts took away a lot of what they like to do.

“They defended really, really well,” he said. “For a team like us that scores a lot of goals to not score for 110 minutes is a credit to them.”

The Warriors find themselves in the semifinals for a second straight season. The resurgent program has come alive after nearly three decades dormant.

“We’ve really come from no where,” Abbondondolo said. “The last 26 years besides last year we hadn’t won a playoff game. So now to go back-to-back in the semifinals is starting to make us a program and not just a good team.”

Photo Caption: Shoreham-Wading River senior Dan Mahoney pushes toward the Amityville goal. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

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