SUFFOLK CLASS C FINAL | FIRST SETTLERS 5, WHALERS 2
Drew Sacher clutched the Suffolk County Class C boys soccer championship plaque so tightly as though he wasn’t going to give it up. In fact, he wanted to take it home.
“I hope so, if the coach lets me,” he said. “I’ll take it in the shower with me.”
Who could have blamed the senior midfielder-turned-forward? After his team fell in the final three years running, Southold secured the county crown for the first time since 2008. Sacher did his part, striking for a hat trick in a stunning 5-2 victory over favored Pierson/Bridgehampton at Diamond in the Pines in Coram on Saturday.
“It’s amazing. It’s an amazing feeling,” Sacher said. “Losing for the past three years in the county finals, it’s almost surreal winning.”
The First Settlers (12-4-1), who will meet Friends Academy back in Coram in a Southeast Region semifinal on Tuesday, captured a county title for the 16th time since 1978.
In last year’s final, Southold lost to Port Jefferson, which captured the state title.
“We definitely learned a lot from that, seeing the level of play that Port Jeff had, trying to emulate that,” Sacher said. “This year we knew we had to play as hard as we did last year. But we got a little bit better, too, which helped out. And especially not playing them again helped.”
During the League VIII season, Southold dropped both regular-season matches to Pierson/Bridgehampton (10-5-2).
“The thing that was special about it was that we had the workings of this all year and it just took some time for them to understand the game plan we had that we wanted them to use,” coach Andrew Sadowski said. “They executed it brilliantly.”
Perhaps no one executed it better than Sacher, who was moved from midfield to forward to spark the attack.
“He, without a doubt, showed that he was the leader on the field,” Sadowski said. “His effort, his intelligence, and encouragement of his teammates, you couldn’t ask for any more from any player.”
It took a while before Sacher took center stage. Senior Ian Barrett had lifted Pierson/Bridgehampton to a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute, putting a shot past goalkeeper John Charles Funke. Off a nice through ball from Joseph Worysz, Sacher equalized five minutes later.
Junior defender Jack Dunne scored his first goal of the season in the 24th minute when goalkeeper Nick Stevens allowed his 35-yard free kick to slip through his hands as the First Settlers grabbed a 2-1 edge.
“I was about even with the kid in front of the goalie and we got tangled up,” Sacher said. “His hands were a bit buttery today, but it was a tough save for him to make … because he had three guys in front of him.”
Sacher added his second goal for a 3-1 margin in the 27th minute, connecting from six yards. He completed his hat trick 16 seconds into the second half, converting a penalty kick for his 12th goal this season after Duncan Bennett fouled Kenji Fujita in the penalty area.
Sacher’s move to front line certainly has helped the First Settlers fill the net.
“We had a little trouble scoring goals and Coach figured that if he put me up top and maybe I can get something going and it worked out today,” Sacher said.
But don’t expect Pierson/Bridgehampton to add Sacher to its Christmas card list. Two of his three career hat tricks are against the Whalers.
“I play to the level of my opponent, I guess,” Sacher said. “They’re always a quality side.”
Sophomore Peter Fouchet, who slotted home a rebound to give Southold a 5-1 lead in the 73rd minute, suffered a left arm injury on the play and was taken to the hospital.
Six minutes later, Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Jack Fitzpatrick pulled one back.
“The games that we lost, we broke down a bit in the back,” Sacher said. “We didn’t finish our chances. Today, for the most part, we put our chances away.”
It just wasn’t the offense. Southold’s back line, led by junior sweeper Ryan DiGregorio, kept the Whalers in check when it counted.
“He played insane back there,” Sacher said.
The same could be said of Sacher up front.