Kyle Rose is blooming as a goalkeeper.
His coaches and teammates on the Shoreham-Wading River boys soccer team can see it.
“He routinely frustrates players in practice,” coach Rob Mancuso said. “You know, we say, ‘All right, we score three, we go home.’ We’re there for another 20, 30 minutes if he’s in net.”
Rose was frustrating players Thursday, only this time those players were wearing Elwood/John Glenn uniforms. Among Kyle the keeper’s eight saves in the Suffolk County Class A quarterfinal in East Northport were a couple that could be categorized as excellent. Yet, in the end, the junior’s standout performance wasn’t enough to prevent a 2-1 Glenn triumph.
All three goals were scored in the final 17 minutes, 34 seconds. Matt Pepper broke a 1-1 tie with his winning strike with 8:42 remaining, sending fourth-seeded Glenn (14-2-1) to a semifinal against No. 1 Amityville or No. 8 Islip Monday.
The loss snapped fifth-seeded SWR’s nine-game win streak in which the Wildcats (12-4-1) outscored opponents, 39-3.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more,” right back Tanner Cummings said. “Every game these guys have just fought their hearts out every time.”
And the Wildcats did so again. A lesser team might have had the wind taken out of its sails when Anthony Randazzo drilled a 25-yard free kick into the net for a 1-0 Glenn lead. But Owen Caraftis headed in a right-wing cross from Ryan Menno for an equalizer. It seemed as if overtime was in the offing.
Pepper saw to it that it wasn’t, though. Just 2:08 after Caraftis’ goal, Pepper pounded the ball home after Xavier Rosado, working in tight quarters, tapped a pass to him.
Desperate SWR managed three shots after that, including one from a break down the left wing by Nick Nowak, whose shot was saved by Chris Flores.
It would have been a different match if not for some spectacular stops by Rose. His best of the day was brilliant. Less than seven minutes in, Eli Tyll produced a forceful header from a corner kick by Rosado that didn’t give Rose much time to react. No matter, he sprang to his right and punched the ball aside.
With SWR trailing, 1-0, Randazzo struck a dangerously swerving 25-yard free kick from the left wing. The ball was earmarked for the right side of the net, but Rose made a great diving stop to his left, knocking it aside for a corner kick.
“They were great, but really, he’s the backbone of the team,” said Cummings, who captains the Wildcats along with fellow seniors Luke Gorman, Menno and Nowak. “Honestly, we probably wouldn’t have gotten this far without him.”
Mancuso said Rose is “unbelievable. He’s an incredibly talented goalkeeper. He has been for a while. We saw it with him coming up freshman year. You know, we’re lucky enough to have a couple of very talented goalkeepers on our squad [junior Killian O’Reilly is the other one]. But yeah, I thought he played an incredible game, really kept us in it.”
Asked after the game if he had felt sharp, Rose said: “I thought I played well. I wish I could have done better.”
It was on this same field that Glenn throttled SWR, 6-1, on Sept. 17.
“That 6-1 loss was kind of a turning point for us,” Mancuso said. “From that I think we had a win, a loss and then just kind of hit our stride.”
Glenn plays its home matches on a grass field, whereas SWR’s home pitch is a turf field. Did the grass field take SWR out of its normal ground passing game?
“We don’t really think it takes us out of the game,” Mancuso said. “You have to be able to play on both surfaces. We have both surfaces in Suffolk. I personally would take a nice grass field over a turf field, but I like the way the game is played on it. But I don’t think that’s really an excuse.”
Some of the Wildcats visibly took the loss hard and Mancuso consoled them.
“I’m incredibly proud of them,” he said. “You know, I couldn’t ask for more from this team. I think they push themselves and, you know, overcame a little bit of a rocky start [to the season] to really put something special together. It’s a shame it has to stop here.”