A high school boys soccer game is typically 80 minutes long. But it only took 2 minutes, 58 seconds to change everything Wednesday night.
In 2:58, a tight contest between Mattituck and Center Moriches was blown wide open.
In 2:58, one team’s momentum shot sky high while the life was sucked out of the other. In 2:58, Center Moriches won a Suffolk County Class B outbracket game and Mattituck saw its short postseason coming to an end.
To the delight of its home fans, Center Moriches struck for the first three goals within 2:58 in the second half, setting the course for a 4-1 victory. Ben Hamilton, Center Moriches’ dynamic junior forward, was involved in all four of his team’s goals, scoring three and assisting on the other. He raised his season totals to 23 goals and 15 assists.
With the win, second-seeded Center Moriches (11-4-1) earned a berth in the county final against No. 1 Babylon (10-3) on Saturday at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.
Wednesday’s match provided an interesting showdown between Center Moriches’ skillful attack and Mattituck’s stubborn defense. In the two regular-season meetings between the teams, Center Moriches won the first game, 4-0 (with a hat trick from Hamilton), and tied the second, 3-3.
Although Center Moriches played the ball to feet better in the first half, Mattituck (9-7-1) enjoyed the more dangerous scoring chances in the half. Several saves by Alec Maag (eight saves) in the first half kept Mattituck off the scoreboard. The best may have been in the 15th minute when Mattituck’s Pawel Kibliscz snapped a first-time shot off a driven service from Chris Waggoner, only to see Maag do well to stop it.
As the temperature dropped, the game heated up in the second half. Center Moriches got the break it had been waiting for. Hamilton, who did not take a shot in the first half, ran onto a ball from Matt Alifano and pounded a shot that beat goalkeeper James Jacobs to the left 14:03 into the half.
It was only 41 seconds later when, after a flicked header from Hamilton, Eric Amaya doubled the lead, blasting in his 15th goal of the season.
Hamilton then sent the Tuckers reeling with his second strike of the night, just 2:17 later. Liam Pulsipher delivered a long ball down the left flank. Hamilton caught up to it, beat a defender and then Jacobs with a right-footed shot.
Hamilton then made it 4-0 with 18:20 left. Jack Wicks curled a ball forward for Hamilton, who had Jacobs at his mercy and made no mistake depositing the ball in the net.
Kibliscz registered his fourth goal of the year for Mattituck, putting in a rebound of his own shot that had been saved by Maag with 16:49 to go.
Later, Center Moriches nearly added to its tally. Alifano drove a shot off the crossbar and Hamilton sent a header into Jacobs’ arms.
Photo caption: Mattituck junior midfielder Tommy Sullivan following the Tuckers’ 4-1 playoff loss to Center Moriches on Wednesday night. (Credit: Garret Meade)