Almost from the beginning, it seemed, tempers were frayed. Coaches and fans yelled at officials. Soccer players from Southampton and Mattituck exchanged words with each other. Players and officials had words with each other. One player was ejected from the game.
Mixed in among all of that were nine goals — six by Southampton — in an ill-tempered affair.
After blowing a 3-0 lead, Southampton rallied with a tremendous goal by Gianluca Santacruz and two late penalty kicks within 90 seconds of each other for a 6-3 triumph in the Suffolk County League VII game on Monday.
It was a big day for undefeated Southampton (12-0, 9-0). Not only did the Mariners clinch their fourth league championship and first since 2011, but two of their seniors, Santacruz and Jesse Scanlon, set single-season school records for assists and goals, respectively. Santacruz picked up his 23rd assist of the season from one of Scanlon’s two goals. Scanlon set a new record with his second goal of the day, giving him 27 for the season.
Four news organizations saw fit to send personnel to cover the game, and they couldn’t have been disappointed by the drama-filled goalfest that unfolded. The Columbus Day matinee at Mattituck High School certainly wasn’t a yawner.
The game, incendiary at times, was interrupted with 23 minutes 29 seconds remaining when the officials ordered both teams to their sideline area before summoning Southampton coach Dave Riley and Mattituck coach Will Hayes onto the field for a brief conference in an effort to restore order.
The goal of the day belonged to Santacruz, and it was a beauty. After Mattituck (9-3, 6-3) battled back to even the score at 3-3, Santacruz struck a brilliant right-footed volley for the go-ahead goal, his 16th of the season, at 42:24.
Southampton pulled away further with penalty kicks by Scanlon and Hunter West in the final six minutes.
Hayes was irate when his goalkeeper, James Jacobs, received a yellow card for a foul that led to the second penalty kick and was ordered by an official to the bench until the next stoppage in play. Moments later, one of Mattituck’s midfielders, Carlos Campos (one goal, one assist, 8 of 14 passing, 27 touches), was also miffed enough that he drew a red card for dissent, and was also sent to the bench. A defender, Dan Fedun, put on a pair of goalie gloves and got a piece of West’s penalty kick, but was unable to stop it.
Southampton came out strong and shot ahead to a 3-0 lead on first-half goals by Santacruz (assisted by Devon O’Brien), Johnny Navan (from a cross by Elijah Wingfield) and Scanlon (assisted by Santacruz).
But Mattituck fought back. Before the half ended, Axel Rodriguez-Canal knocked in two goals for the Tuckers. On the second one, the sophomore connected on a picture-perfect header off a corner kick by Campos with 28.5 seconds left in the first half.
Momentum was swinging Mattituck’s way. Campos gave the Tuckers new life 3:45 into the second half when he drilled a free kick from the left side inside the far right goalpost.