Both high school boys soccer teams saw one golden scoring chance after another go begging until Greenport’s Cesar Chapeton finally brought things to a dramatic end with a golden goal.
And it was a beauty.
As the Porters saw it, this was much harder than it should have been, having twice squandered two-goal leads, but there they were, locked in sudden-victory overtime with Port Jefferson. The prospect of a bus ride home from Port Jefferson after losing a game like this wasn’t an appealing one to the Porters, so Chapeton did something about it. It was the junior center midfielder’s glorious volley for his second goal of the season 4 minutes and 15 seconds into overtime that brought Greenport a 4-3 triumph — and a deep sense of relief.
“I’m glad we won,” Greenport coach Greg Dlhopolsky said after his team’s first overtime game Thursday. “If we lost, I would have been pretty upset about it. The thing is, it was a game we were controlling, and then we just kind of fell apart at the end and we kept [giving] them chances. It shouldn’t have gone to OT, but any day with a win is better than a non-win, so we’ll take it. It definitely was scary.”
The decisive goal followed a second straight corner kick by the Porters (5-7 overall and in Suffolk County League VII). Hugo Deleon Campos took the corner, which Drew Wolf headed off the goalpost. The rebound ricocheted Chapeton’s way. He stepped forward and nailed it home with his right foot.
“He volleyed it nicely,” Dlhopolsky said. “That could have easily gone over the crossbar.”
Call the game-winner absolution for some of Greenport’s earlier miscues, especially during a second half (much of it played in wind and rain) in which spirited Port Jefferson (1-11, 1-11) worked its way back into the match.
The way things started, it seemed as if it was going to be an easy afternoon for the defending Long Island Class C champion Porters. Campos, a sophomore midfielder, bagged his first career varsity goal for an early lead 2:04 into the game. A throw-in by Joshua Santacroce sailed over a defender’s head and Cristian Quezada Arevalo chased it down. His shot was saved by Jonathan Balfoort, but Campos directed the rebound into the net.
Then Arevalo ticketed a penalty kick to the upper left corner following a handball call for the first of his two goals at 14:00, making it 2-0.
It took Port Jefferson a mere 37 seconds to respond with the first of Jack Hennessy’s two goals, assisted by Kyle Yanucci.
The Porters had only a one-goal lead to show for the opening 40 minutes in which they controlled play and outshot the Royals, 13-4.
Arevalo latched onto a through ball from Justin Lopez and deposited his team-leading ninth goal of the season for a 3-1 lead. But Port Jefferson once again made it a one-goal game when Conor Blake headed in a high, arcing free kick from Yanucci at 50:16.
Just 3:35 later, a handball call went against Greenport and Hennessy buried the penalty kick for his third goal of the season, knotting the score at 3-3.
Greenport missed a multitude of second-half chances, including a penalty kick by Arevalo that smacked off the crossbar, three dangerous shots by Wolf that missed the mark and a long-range blast by Santacroce that flew over the crossbar before dipping.
On to overtime.
“We had to wake up,” said Arevalo.
Fortunately for Greenport, Chapeton didn’t waste his only shot of the game with his picture-perfect volley.
Dlhopolsky said, “He’s very smart when it comes to the game and he usually is in good position to make plays, and he has one of the best touches we have on the team.”
Chapeton, asked if he practices hitting volleys a lot, answered simply, “No.”
He noted that it was one of the nicest goals he has ever scored. “We needed to win that game,” he said. “It was so exciting because that’s what we needed to win this game.”
Before heading to the team bus, Dlhopolsky said: “We obviously still have some things we need to work on … In the end, all’s well that ends well.”
Photo caption: Greenport’s Justin Lopez leads a charge upfield while being followed by Port Jefferson’s Connor Blake and Greenport’s Cesar Chapeton. (Credit: Bob Liepa)