The artificial turf era in Southold has begun — just not the way the First Settlers would have liked.
The first interscholastic sporting event on Southold High School’s brand new field turf will surely not be fondly remembered by the school’s boys soccer team. Southold, facing a formidable foe in Sayville, absorbed a 5-0 shellacking Saturday, most of the damage being done in the opening 37 minutes of the non-league season opener for both sides.
Sayville struck for its first two goals within 33 seconds of each other, and just like that it was 2-0 before eight minutes had elapsed.
Tomas Moreira connected on a 30-yard free kick before then sending Connor Owenburg through for a shot that goalkeeper Cole Brigham got a hand to but couldn’t stop.
“I think we were a little excited. I think we were a little nervous, too, coming into our first game,” junior forward Joe Silvestro said. “We weren’t in the game at that point, really. It took us into the second half to really get acclimated.”
By then, though, Sayville, a Class A team that plays in League V, had tacked on two more goals against the Class C Settlers.
Jack Davis’ 40-yard free kick forced a save by Brigham, but Eric Famularo was in place to tuck the rebound in at 18:58.
Liam Berlingieri made it 4-0, cranking in a loose ball that bounced back to him at 36:39.
It was not an opening half Southold had envisioned for itself.
“We watched instead of played,” Southold coach Andrew Sadowski said. “We were, I think, nervous because it was the first game of the season. That was part of it. There’s quite a few players who played on JV [last year], so they had to adjust to the speed of the game and the physical nature of the game.”
And then there was Sayville. The Golden Flashes showed their quality with their ball control and movement, justifying their reputation as one of the top small school teams in Suffolk County.
“I thought we moved the ball very well,” Sayville coach Val Winter said. “I think we defended well and I thought we had good intensity in the first half. The second half, not so much.”
Southold turned in a better showing in the second half, but that is also when the goal of the day was scored. With less than nine minutes left to play, a ball off a corner kick bounced out to onrushing defender Kolby Maddy, who unleashed a fierce drive into the lower right corner. Maddy had come off the bench moments earlier.
It was an impressive exclamation mark.
Brigham made 10 saves and was one of the busiest players on the field. “I enjoy making the saves, but I also want to win as a team,” said the goalie, who made a few dazzling stops in the second half.
As bad as it was from Southold’s vantage point, it could have been worse. Sayville missed a couple of golden opportunities. A driven centering pass from Berlingieri was met by a lunging P.J. Kloska, whose first-timer flew over the crossbar with Brigham on the ground. Later, Jackson Von Eschen charged forward for a header and, with Brigham at his mercy, missed the mark.
Altogether, Sayville launched 27 shots, 15 of which were on goal. The Golden Flashes also earned 11 corner kicks to Southold’s three.
Southold managed only three shots, and the two that Tyler Woodhull and Freddy Palencia put on goal were saved by Christian Jones.
“We need to be ready to go into the game right from the start,” Brigham said. “I think we have a lot of chemistry, and that’s just something that is hard to get sometimes with certain teams even if they are individually really skilled. So, I feel like we can go far because we all want to work together as a team and get better.”
While Southold’s season opener play wasn’t what it would have liked, its new home field has received rave reviews.
“It’s beautiful. It really is,” said Winter, whose team is in its second year with home field turf. “Most schools have had turf fields for a long time. They’re all so used to playing on it. It’s not a novelty any more for them. It’s not a big deal.”
The bigger deal now for Southold is learning from its mistakes and improving.
“I think we have the building blocks to be a great team,” Silvestro said. “We just have to put it together.”
Photo caption: Southold’s Eddy Nazario and one of Sayville’s five goal scorers, Sebastian Berlingieri. (Credit: Bob Liepa)