Boys Soccer: Fujita knows how to stop shots as well as score

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Southold goalkeeper Kenji Fujita making one of his 10 saves while under pressure from Hampton Bays’ Nick Giannone, left, and Andrew Sarasky.


The Southold High School boys soccer team has something it has never had before in Andrew Sadowski’s 19 years as coach: not one, but two quality goalkeepers the First Settlers can confidently place their trust in. It’s a luxury not many teams enjoy.

Through their first three games this season, junior Kenji Fujita and senior Preston Jolliver have evenly split time in goal. In those games, Fujita started the first half before playing in the field in the second half when Jolliver took over between the goal posts.

There was a break in the pattern, however, on Saturday when Southold played Hampton Bays in a Bridgehampton National Bank Soccer Cup match at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field. With Jolliver feeling under the weather, Fujita played the whole game in goal and he sparkled in the afternoon sunshine with several clutch saves. Fujita finished with 10 saves for a 2-0 shutout as Southold completed the non-league phase of its season with a 2-2 record.

Later in the day, on the same field, Center Moriches blasted Pierson/Bridgehampton, 5-2, sewing up the tournament title with a 3-0 record. It is the first time that the Red Devils have raised the cup in the tournament’s 10-year history. Southold finished fourth in the six-team competition with a 2-1 record.

Hampton Bays (3-2, 1-0 Suffolk County League VII) had the better quality scoring chances as well as a 20-10 advantage in shots, but League VIII Southold had opportunism and Fujita on its side.

Sean O’Donnell, who played left wing and center midfielder, was instrumental in both Southold goals, setting up the first one and scoring the second.

Southold’s star player, forward Evan Miller, produced his seventh goal of the young season to open the scoring after a half-hour. The goal was the product of hustle and desire on the part of Miller, who registered hat tricks against Bishop McGann-Mercy and Center Moriches. O’Donnell curled a delightful ball forward, and Miller beat goalkeeper Jordan Luna to the ball.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Southold’s Rommel Reyes (No. 4) attempting a cross that Harry Fotopoulos of Hampton Bays tries to block.

It was, in one sense, a typical goal by Miller. The way the flow of the game went, Miller had only 11 touches, but he showed that he doesn’t need many touches to have an impact on a game.

“He’s scoring quality goals,” said Sadowski.

As good players do, Miller took advantage of his opportunity. He also took an elbow to his nose earlier in the game and complained that it was sore, said Sadowski.

Southold’s second goal was fluky. O’Donnell unleashed a long-range shot that Luna misplayed in the 61st minute. It was O’Donnell’s second goal of the season.

“We didn’t have many [scoring chances], but we made them count,” said O’Donnell.

Sadowski said: “That’s the big improvement that we had today. We took advantage of our opportunities, and in two other games we didn’t. That’s why I thought we lost both [of those] games by one goal.”

Fujita’s goalkeeping saw to it that the score remained 2-0 to the end.

Fujita straddles two worlds in a sense, as a goalkeeper and a left midfielder. Not many players can say, as he can, that they have scored a goal and posted a shutout in the same season. Fujita scored a goal in a cup game against Southampton recently.

“I enjoy playing the field because scoring a goal is one of the best feelings,” he said.

Preventing them isn’t too bad, either.

The game started about 45 minutes late while the teams waited for one of the officials to arrive. Fujita said his team had a good warmup, and it showed in his play and that of his team.

“Kenji never ceases to amaze us,” O’Donnell said. “He always comes up big when we need him.”

As well as Fujita played, it wasn’t something Sadowski had never seen before. “He’s very consistent back there,” the coach said. “He usually makes good decisions.”

As fun as goal scoring is, Fujita seems to be getting a kick out of stopping shots these days, too.

He said, “Right now in goal I feel probably better than I ever have.”

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