FIRST SETTLERS 4, PORTERS 1
A little over eight minutes into Monday’s match, Southold striker Kenji Fujita banged heads with Greenport defender Nick Droskoski at midfield giving the spectators a scare as both players fell to the ground.
“I have been injured a lot worse,” Fujita said.
When he returned to action several minutes later, Fujita accomplished some scary things himself, striking twice within four minutes late in the first half to turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 advantage. Southold went on to a 4-1 League VIII victory at home.
“This solidifies us playing in the playoffs,” said Southold coach Andrew Sadowski, referring to the upcoming Class C tournament. “We’re just looking to continue to get better as we move through the season.”
The Settlers (9-3, 6-1) rebounded from their 4-0 non-league loss to Sayville as Rafael Campos and Brian Hallock also found the back of the net against the Porters (2-11, 2-7).
“We know how good we are,” Fujita said. “We came off a tough loss on Saturday. This was definitely a confidence booster going into Friday against Pierson and our last home game here.”
Due to a constant wind coming out of the south, the conditions presented 80 minutes worth of challenges to these two rivals. The Porters took the wind in the first half, scored first, but allowed the hosts to grab a 2-1 halftime lead.
“The conditions were a little bit unfavorable when you want to play a possession game,” Sadowski said. “They did a good job adjusting to it.
“That’s one of the things that they have to learn to adjust for — the conditions. It’s going to be more days like this than not. So it’s certainly something they can take that from a learning standpoint.”
The Porters did their best to play spoilers. With 14:58 remaining in the half, sophomore Bryon Rivas lifted Greenport to a 1-0 lead seconds after goalkeeper Alex Perez denied Southold’s Michael Schade a goal at the other end of the field.
Sadowski said the goal was through “a mental breakdown.”
Porters coach Chris Golden said his team was “trying to play our strengths with the wind, get a couple of goals and maybe ride it out in the second half. We played as well as we could possibly play.”
But Fujita, a goalkeeper-turned-forward, stole the spotlight over a span of 3:56. First, he beat Perez one-on-one, converting a William Richter feed into the lower left-hand corner with 7:08 left. He then put in a Campos pass during a goalmouth scramble with 3:12 to go for a 2-1 lead.
“We started out pretty slow,” Fujita said. “But once we got the momentum, it just kept going. We had the possession for pretty much the rest of the game.”
With the wind behind their backs in the second half, the Settlers’ possession game paid dividends. Hallock increased the margin to 3-1 with 30:47 left in the half and Campos closed out the scoring with 13:08 remaining.
While Fujita was able to return to the match and make a major impact, Droskoski did not as he held an ice bag against the left side of his face while sitting on the bench.
Golden certainly can relate to head injuries. He lost senior midfielder-defender and co-captain Ryan Weingart for the season due to a concussion in a 4-3 loss to Smithtown Christian on Oct. 1. According to regulations, Weingart must sit out several weeks. Weingart hopes that he will play basketball in the winter and participate in baseball or track in the spring, Golden said.
“That’s far enough down the road,” Golden said. “Hopefully he comes back.”
The Porters have only one game remaining in the season as they host the Knox School on Wednesday.
Golden called this team the “nicest group of guys I’ve worked with in seven years.”
“You know what?” he added. “They play the game hard. They respect the game. A class act. It’s a learning process. I see a lot of positives. I can go on. … I am extremely pleased from where we started to where we ended. Nobody whined, nobody complained. Came out there, each game and did the best we could.”