Historically, last week was one of the worst that Half Hollow Hills High School West has seen on the boys soccer field in quite some time. For the first time in 11 years, Head Coach Doug Gannon said, the Colts (6-3-1) dropped back-to-back league matches – with 3-1 defeats coming at the hands of both Smithtown West (9-1) and North Babylon (8-1-1).
On Friday, though, in a hard-fought game, the Colts bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Riverhead (3-7).
“We stressed all week about playing tough, and the guys really [did that] today,” Gannon said. “To come back and fight a good Riverhead team and knock them off 1-0 shows a lot of character and resiliency from our team.”
Junior Young Lee scored the lone goal for the Colts after senior captain Stephen Lauria took a shot off of a free kick for Hills West. Riverhead’s keeper made the save diving to his left, but the ball bounced free to Lee who ran on to it and blasted it into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Defensively, Hills West’s back line impressed, “[keeping] Riverhead at bay,” Gannon said, with solid performances from defenders Brendan Iris, Carter Hallock, Ryan Barone and Kory Fitzgerald, a third-year player for the Colts and another of its senior captains.
Gannon was also impressed by the play of his goalkeeper, Hunter Goldberg, who has taken over the starting role after Tyler DeLucia went down with a rib injury earlier this season.
“[Goldberg was] huge,” Gannon said. “He has stepped in these last couple games and it’s been a pleasant surprise [for us].”
Late in the second half, Goldberg made a diving save to his left that kept Riverhead scoreless – one of his three recorded saves in the game – and helped bring Hills West ever closer to a playoff spot.
As of press time Monday, the Colts needed a win or a tie to clinch a spot with four games remaining on the schedule – all of which are against teams Hills West has already defeated.
“We’re trying to run the table and finish the regular season at [10-3-1] to get ready for the playoffs,” Gannon said.
First up for the Colts was a trip to Copiague (3-6) on Monday after press time. On Friday, a trip to Centereach (5-5) will kick off at 4 p.m. Closing out the season, one more away game at West Islip (2-7) starts at 4 p.m. on Monday, and then the final game of the League III season will be at home against Newfield (2-7) again at 4 p.m.