KNIGHTS 0, PORTERS 0 (OT)
The old saying states that ties are like kissing your sister. Sometimes, though, a tie isn’t a bad thing, as both the Smithtown Christian and the Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer teams would readily attest following their goalless draw on Tuesday.
In one sense, both sides may have felt like winners as they walked off Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field. At least it wasn’t a loss, and it didn’t hurt the playoff prospects for either side. In this case, a tie was virtually as good as a win.
Both coaches, Pat Nieto of Smithtown Christian and Chris Golden of Greenport/Shelter Island, indicated that they weren’t disappointed with the result of the Suffolk County League VIII match.
“This is in our favor,” Nieto said. “A tie works. We’ll take it.”
Golden pointed out that one win from Greenport/Shelter Island’s final three regular-season games would bring the Porters (4-7-2, 4-3-2) their fourth playoff berth in six years.
Through 100 minutes of soccer (including 20 minutes of golden-goal overtime), the game offered excitement, shots, saves — just about everything except a goal, although there were chances aplenty. Both teams took 20 shots each. Not all soccer games are going to have goals, and this was one that didn’t.
“Scoring goals is funny,” Golden said. “Sometimes you score goals in bunches, and other times it’s really hard to do.”
Greenport/Shelter Island can be grateful for the efforts of its goalkeeper, Austin Hooks, who put his 6-foot-2 frame to good use. Hooks made six saves for his second shutout of the season. The biggest of those saves came in overtime when the junior darted off his goalline to block a dangerous shot by Jesse Eyoma.
“He’s come up with a big save or two every game that we need it, which is why we’re above water,” said Golden.
Hooks received help from a defense that featured sweeper Jesus Duran, left back Matt Dibble, right back Nick Droskoski and holding midfielder Eddie Rogers, who was applauded by Golden for his play in what the coach said was Rogers’ first “real full-game varsity experience.”
In the other goal, George Flores was kept busy with eight saves for Smithtown Christian (4-5-1, 4-4-1).
After a fairly quiet first half in which Erick Ramirez took all six of Greenport/Shelter Island’s shots up to that point (Ramirez finished with 10 shots and 62 touches), the number of serious scoring chances picked up. A long punt by Hooks bounced at the top of the Smithtown Christian penalty area and Greenport/Shelter Island’s Bryon Rivas got a foot to the ball, only to send it wide of the mark. A Ramirez pass found Camilo Torres with only Flores to beat, but the shot ended up in the side netting after a slight deflection. Charles Bellini almost put Smithtown Christian on the scoreboard, lining a blazing shot that barely cleared the crossbar.
Things got even more interesting in overtime. Torres pulled a shot from the goalmouth wide. Smithtown Christian’s Brandon Miller sprayed a shot that just missed the target. Another Smithtown Christian player, Nikita Grob, misfired on a golden chance. Then, in the final minutes, Smithtown Christian defender Giovanni Cervini made a game-saving goal-line clearance during a melee in front of the Knights’ goal.
Although Tuesday’s tie didn’t bother Golden, what he perceived as a lackluster performance by his team did.
“Obviously, there was a lack of effort and we were very lethargic, not everyone, but enough people that it was like we were slogging through mud,” he said. “We couldn’t get any traction. We couldn’t get any rhythm. We didn’t get a feel for the game. We really just didn’t get on track. We were spinning our tires. We were stuck in the mud.”
Dibble, one of the team’s three captains, said Greenport/Shelter Island’s play was “not what it should have been. We did not give full effort as a team. Some people did, some people didn’t.”
What was lacking?
“Intensity and heart,” Dibble answered. “We just didn’t want it like a Southold game or a Port Jeff game or any other game we played.”
The Porters might have felt fortunate to come away with a tie against a team it had beaten, 3-0, last month in Smithtown.
“It was an off game for us,” Hooks said. “We didn’t play a hundred percent, and we really needed to because they were giving 110 [percent] out there.”
Greenport/Shelter Island midfielder Omar Machado left the game with a shoulder injury after taking a hard fall to the ground from a collision. The Porters, who don’t have much depth to begin with, were already without the services of defender/midfielder Ryan Weingart because of a broken nose.
When it was suggested that perhaps fatigue was a factor in Greenport/Shelter Island’s play, Golden replied, “I don’t want to make any excuses.” He added: “We try to build in days off and time off. It’s a long season and you got to work through it. You got to play the games.”
And hope the goals will come.