Colts, Thunderbirds Fall In Playoffs

Andrew Wroblewski

 Hills West’s Stephen Lauria.

Hills West’s Stephen Lauria.

Finishing their seasons in the top-four in their respective leagues, the boys soccer teams from Half Hollow Hills high schools East and West entered the postseason last week.

First up, No. 9 Hills West (11-4-2) found itself tasked with traveling to No. 8 Hauppauge (13-2-3) on Oct. 28. While the boys played hard, Colts Head Coach Doug Gannon said, they fell in penalty kicks, 9-8.

“We dominated for the last 60 minutes, but couldn’t put one in,” Gannon said. “In a penalty kick competition it becomes a coin flip… The first 16 guys scored, but then one of our guys got unlucky.”

Scoreless regulation and overtime periods penalty kicks were what eliminated the Colts from the Suffolk County Class AA bracket, but Gannon applauded his team for a great season – one in which the Colts successfully continued streaks of consecutive seasons with at least 11 wins (10) and consecutive playoff appearances (12).

“We had a good group of seniors, with our four captains,” Gannon said of Kory Fitzgerald, Stephen Lauria, Richie Mastrangelo and Jordan Strummer.

Fitzgerald was the “glue” that held the Colts’ defense together. Lauria scored 11 goals and added 15 assists, Mastrangelo had 4 goals and 2 assists, and Strummer added 8 goals while dishing out 6 assists; all four players are set to graduate in June.

While losing his senior core stings – Hills West will also graduate 10 other seniors – Gannon is still optimistic when looking toward Hills West’s future.

“We’re going to be a pretty good team next year… We’re looking forward to it,” Gannon said. “I think we’ll be just as good [as this year], if not better.”

 Hills East’s Wesley Bosse.

Hills East’s Wesley Bosse.

As for the Thunderbirds, the No. 12 Hills East (8-7-1) playoff journey began and ended with No. 5 Ward Melville (11-3-3) on Oct. 28 following a 3-1 defeat in the first round of the Suffolk County Class AA bracket.

After conceding a second-half goal, Thunderbirds’ Justin Hassenfeld, a senior, scored off a pass from junior Taylor Kaczynski to level the game. However it wasn’t enough to spark a Thunderbirds victory as Ward Melville scored with 15:00 remaining – a goal Hills East just couldn’t overcome. Thunderbirds’ junior goalkeeper, Justin Katz, made 7 saves in the game.

Looking back at the season as a whole, the Thunderbirds were led by senior Wesley Bosse who scored 10 goals while tacking on 3 assists. Kaczynski also played a big part for Hills East, often controlling the middle of the field for the Thunderbirds, while scoring 6 goals and tallying 6 assists. Spencer Manus was the final Thunderbird to accrue double-digit points this season; the junior scored 2 goals and dished out 9 assists.

Hills East has now made a playoff appearance in each season this decade and will look to keep that trend going as 20 of the 28 players rostered this season will be eligible to return in 2015.