Boys Soccer: Winless Porters see progress, with help on the way

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island’s Omar Machado, left, shielding the ball from Southampton’s Liam McConnell.


Help is on the way.

That is something for the Greenport/Shelter Island high school boys soccer team to keep in mind. In the meantime, the Porters are helping themselves.

Over the course of four non-league games, Greenport/Shelter Island has made undoubted progress, although it is not reflected in the team’s 0-4 record. Coach Chris Golden said the difference between the season-opener and the team’s most recent game, a 3-1 loss to Southampton in the Bridgehampton National Bank Soccer Cup on Saturday night, has been considerable, like “night and day.”

One of the biggest obstacles the Porters have had to contend with is lack of depth. They have been playing with only two substitutes available, and that is with a call-up from the junior varsity team, Nick Wallace, helping out.

It should also be kept in mind that in advance of its upcoming Suffolk County League VIII opener against defending state champion Port Jefferson on Friday evening, Greenport/Shelter Island prepared for the league season by playing League VII teams in all of its non-leaguers. Center Moriches, Mattituck, Hampton Bays and Southampton have all been tough opponents, outscoring the Porters by 17-2.

But, as noted earlier, the good news is that Greenport/Shelter Island will soon be fortifying its roster. Matt Dibble, a defender, has been out with a concussion, but Golden hopes Dibble will be cleared for activity on Monday. In addition, two members of last year’s team, goalkeeper Austin Hooks and utility player Billy Doucett, have been late additions to the roster and are expected to play once they take part in the required number of practices.

Those are only three players, but a few players can make a big difference for a small team.

“We’ll have more depth and versatility,” Golden said. “The good news is we’re adding players to our roster, and nobody got hurt, and the people with nagging injuries seem to be moving past them.”

It’s an evolving squad. “We’re still working on it,” said senior midfielder Camilo Torres.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Camilo Torres scored his first goal of the season for Greenport/Shelter Island.

That was seen Saturday night. Unlike their game earlier in the season against Mattituck when they hunkered down on defense, the Porters took the attack to Southampton in the cup game at Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field in Greenport — at least in the first half, which ended with the score 1-1.

“There was some energy here,” said Golden.

But two second-half goals by junior forward Ezequiel Martinez brought Southampton (3-1, 1-0 League VII) the deserved win. Martinez snapped a 1-1 tie by powering in a header off a corner kick by Dailos Ramos in the 55th minute. Then, with 5 minutes 54 seconds remaining, Martinez struck again, this time off Andrew Nelson’s second assist of the game.

Things had started off promisingly for Greenport/Shelter Island. After Wallace won a head ball, Omar Machado deftly scooped the ball over a defender to Torres, who then notched his first goal of the season for a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.

“We have some chemistry together,” said Torres, who had 40 touches and completed 13 of 24 passes. “We know how to find each other.”

That lead lasted until the 27th minute when Southampton’s Kevin Santos drove a lethal shot that beat goalkeeper Angel Colon.

“I see a lot of improvement in the guys,” Torres said. “They’re more committed, and they want to win. We just have to keep on improving.”

Machado said: “We can win, but we have to work hard. We have to practice more.”

Golden raved about Greenport/Shelter Island’s defensive organization with holding midfielder Bryant Rivas and center back Erick Ramirez runnings things in the back along with outside backs Jesus Duran and Nick Droskoski. “It’s the best organization we’ve had here probably in my six years,” Golden said. “We’re marked up. We’re winning the field. We’re not allowing teams to turn and take it to us.”

Before the Porters took the field Saturday evening, the Bridgehampton National Bank Soccer Cup title had already been decided. In the previous game on same field, Center Moriches beat Pierson/Bridgehampton, 5-2, to win the cup for the first time in the competition’s 10-year history. Center Moriches went 3-0 in the tournament while Greenport/Shelter Island went 0-3 and finished last among the six competing teams.

Golden said the reality of the situation is that Greenport/Shelter Island’s chances of winning the non-league games it played was “probably slim to none, but for me, I use this week for fitness.” He said the Porters took the opportunity to work on concepts of the game that cannot be emulated in practice.

Even after the few reinforcements arrive, some Porters will not be taken off the field for a breather. The Porters cannot afford to not have certain players on the field.

“There are guys that are going to be playing 80 minutes for 16 games,” Golden said after Saturday night’s game. “That’s 1,280 minutes of soccer out of 1,280 minutes. … Camilo is playing every minute of every game. Erick is playing every minute of every game. [Ryan] Weingart is going to play every minute. Jesus, every minute. Omar, every minute of every game. Bryron Rivas, freshman, every minute. Bryant Rivas, every minute.”

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