As a newcomer to the Riverhead varsity soccer team last fall, Malcolm Swett played an abbreviated season as he fought through an injury. When he was on the field, he helped anchor the defense at center back and would eventually earn the team’s most improved player award as season’s end.
Now going into his junior year and second on varsity, Swett has his sights set on bigger things for himself and teammates.
The Blue Waves stumbled through a difficult season last year. A year that began with aspirations of playoffs ended with an unsightly 1-13-1 record. The frustrating part was eight of those losses came by one goal. Nearly every game, aside from those against league leaders Smithtown West and Huntington, were tightly contested matches.
“Last year it wasn’t as intense and focused as it could have been,” Swett said. “This year everyone’s going to come in and work to their potential.”
The first steps in that process have already begun on the fields of the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. For the second year, the Blue Waves (2-1) are fielding a summer team to compete against other varsity teams from the county to get a leg up before the varsity season begins in August.
Swett, who’s not necessarily considered a goal scorer, struck twice in Monday night’s 4-3 win over Centereach (0-3). He scored the team’s final two goals, including the eventual winner late in the second half at Centereach Park.
Swett said on his second goal, he anticipated a pass from his teammate, cut in the middle and got a shot off that deflected off the goalkeeper and into the goal.
“The first one I came down the side, I took a bad touch off the defender and got the ball from him,” he said. “I cut in the middle and hit it and it went in.”
Swett said he likes to play in the midfield. He’s a year-round soccer player who plays on travel teams. He had been playing for a team based in Stony Brook and now plays on a team based in Northport, he said.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s what I love to do.”
The Blue Waves’ roster on Monday featured only about five players who return varsity experience, said coach Moussa Keita, who’s the JV coach during the school season.
The biggest goal of the summer league, he said, is for the players to build up their fitness.
“We can’t count on preseason to make everything happen,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure they’re in shape before we start the preseason.”
The Blue Waves got goals on Monday from Edwin Mendez and Darwin Villatoro. Mendez put the team ahead 1-0 late in the first half, but Centereach answered less than a minute later to tie the game.
The offense kept coming in the second half. Villatoro, a speedy striker, scored two minutes into the second half. After Centereach tied the game, Swett scored both of his goals. Centereach made things interesting for the final few minutes after scoring with about four minutes left to make it a one-goal game.
Top Photo Caption: Riverhead’s Darwin Villatoro, left, celebrates with Edwin Mendez after the Blue Waves’ first goal of the game Monday scored by Mendez. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)