Southold brought its “A” game, but Rhinebeck walked off a winner in its pursuit of the New York State Class C boys soccer championship.
Noah Lortie bagged a pair of second-half goals as Rhinebeck emerged a 2-0 victor, despite some stellar play by Southold goalkeeper Cole Brigham, in a Southeast Region semifinal Tuesday night at Middletown High School’s Faller Field.
Southold coach Andrew Sadowski was anything but disappointed, however, with how the First Settlers played.
“They played very well,” he said before his team headed for the bus ride home. “They played with a lot of heart and I’m very proud of them. [Rhinebeck is] a very talented team, but our boys took it to them.”
Lortie was a difference-maker. The junior forward fired in an unassisted goal from the top of the penalty area to the low right corner for a 1-0 lead with 29 minutes and 44 seconds remaining. Then, just 2:32 later, following a hand-ball call, he converted a penalty kick for the Hawks, who will face Hamilton in a regional final Saturday night at Pace University.
Lortie might have had more goals if not for Brigham. The senior keeper stopped a Lortie penalty kick in the first half as well as point-blank shots and a breakaway. Brigham was credited with 17 saves in his final high school game. “And they were brilliant saves,” Sadowski said. “It was his best game ever. He was just on.”
Brigham played behind a defense of Tyler Woodhull, Nick Grathwohl, Edy Nazario and Freddy Palencia.
Sadowski said Stephen Schill “was a major workhorse” in midfield, where he played alongside Jaishaun McRae, Justin Uguna and Elmer Deleon.
Joe Silvestro and Danny Palencia played up top and put shots on goal that Brendan Hines (nine saves) had to deal with.
“We were pressuring them the first half, and then of course the second half when we went down, we were just trying to find our way back into the game,” Sadowski said. “We had our chances at goal.”
Sadowski said the Settlers stuck to the game plan. “They played well together as a team, as an entire unit,” he said. “They did not back down from tackles. They fought right till the end.”
“They could have just played afraid and packed it in and they didn’t,” he continued. “The boys played their game. We went forward, created chances. We obviously got shots on goal. We just couldn’t find the mark.”
Rhinebeck (17-0-1) is ranked second in the state in Class C by the New York State Sportswriters Association. Southold is ranked 10th in the poll that was released Monday.
This has to go down as one of the strangest seasons in Sadowski’s 26 years as Southold’s coach. Tuesday’s game was only his second officially this season after having missed almost the entire campaign since being struck on the neck by a soccer ball and injured during a preseason training session.
Southold lost its first five games before finding its way, reaching the playoffs and finishing with an 8-9-1 record. Assistant coach Lucas Grigonis ran the team while Sadowski was out.
Southold had defeated Greenport, 5-2, in the Suffolk County final for its first county title since 2015, its eighth Suffolk title in the last 15 years and 22nd at the Class C or D level since 1978.
“We finally figured out a way to win a county title again,” Sadowski said. “Southold boys soccer is alive and well.”