No one wanted it to end this way. Ranked eighth in the state, the Huntington boys’ soccer team was nipped in overtime by East Islip on a rainy afternoon at Blue Devil Stadium, 3-2. The loss knocked Huntington from the Suffolk Class AA playoffs and ended the team’s season.
Hundreds of Blue Devil fans turned out for the game, despite the weather, including the largest student cheering section in recent memory. Principal Brenden Cusack and Superintendent James W. Polansky were among those rooting for the home team as they stood on the track between the grandstand and the field. The Huntington Highsteppers competitive dance team even performed at halftime.
Seeded No. 3 in the county bracket, the Blue Devils had high hopes coming into the game, but never settled into their normal rhythm, despite taking a 1-0 first half lead on a goal by senior Deybi Jimenez.
East Islip tied the game in the second half and then went ahead, 2-1 on a goal with just 3:01 remaining in the second half. As the clock ticked down, Huntington went into overdrive and somehow, someway, Jimenez managed to get the ball past East Islip goalie Cody Goldsmith with 2:00 left in the game.
The two teams went into overtime. With 3:44 remaining in the first 15 minute extra frame, East Islip’s Tom Boyd slipped a shot by Huntington goalie Cole Pillion for the game winner.
“It’s something that seems so unreal to us,” said captain Brian Contreras, who had an assist in the game. “It doesn’t feel like it’s over. Unfortunately this wasn’t a result we wanted. It’s very sad to have played our last game on that field. It was one great ride with these guys and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to play with. We’d also like to thank everyone who came out to support us in the rain. It was an amazing atmosphere and we appreciated the love.”
Tightly marked by East Islip, Jasson Garay, Huntington’s leading scorer with 15 goals and six assists was unable to work his magic.
The Blue Devils were shocked with the outcome. “We are still stuck over the fact that it’s all over,” Garay said. “It’s very emotional for all of us especially me and the other seniors who will never be able to relive these moments again. I say that if it hurt us this bad then we’ve done something good and I truly believe every single one of us took something good from this journey. I hope for the best in the future for the Huntington program and our coaches. Huntington has something good going on. I know one day later on for a fact they will finish off what we left and couldn’t do.”
Blue Devil coaches John Pagano, Jason Suarez and Jose Alfaro were just as stunned as the players were after the game. “We are all sad,” Jimenez said
Huntington finished its season with a record of 13-3-1. The Blue Devils won the Suffolk League III championship.
Blue Devil Notes: Wilber Cuadra had an assist in the game . . . Pillion made five saves in goal . . . Huntington Booster Club President Timothy Pillion distributed hundreds of white Huntington soccer tee-shirts that the crowd wore during the contest . . . Senior Abby Semelsberger electrified fans with a stirring rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” . . . Many Huntington High School teachers turned out for the game.