Adem Altinerlielmas lifts Smithtown West to Suffolk Class AA title
After 110 minutes of tense, scoreless soccer Thursday night, Smithtown West goalie Adem Altinerlielmas took matters into his own hands . . . and feet.
Altinerlielmas took the Bulls' second shot in the penalty-kick phase, converting a goal with a shot into the left corner. Then he made a diving save on Central Islip star striker Carlos Iparraguirre that proved to be the difference as Smithtown West outlasted CI, 5-3, on penalty kicks to win the Suffolk Class AA boys soccer championship before a huge, noisy crowd at the Dowling Sports Complex in Shirley.
"It was nerve-wracking but scoring a goal was great," said Altinerlielmas, who made four saves during regulation and overtime while his counterpart, Rene Melgar, stopped six shots. "I practice penalty kicks a lot and being a goalie helps."
In leading Smithtown West (19-0-1) into Sunday's Long Island championship game against Massapequa at 3:30 p.m. at Mitchel Park, Altinerlielmas was not tested much in the first 80 minutes of regulation and the two 15-minute golden-goal (sudden death) OT periods.
That's because coach Tom Lipps installed a last-minute defensive tactic. "We switched to a 3-4-3 and used a high press and squeeze designed to stop them from playing short balls with their backs," Lipps said. "We had a plan and it's a credit to the kids that they executed it when we put it in on the day of the game."
Smithtown West came oh-so-close to winning it in the second OT period when Matthew Hellerman fired a point-blank shot hard off the left post.
In the penalty kicks, Zach Thiele opened with a goal for the Bulls and Richie Campos answered for CI (16-3). Altinerlielmas beat Melgar with a shot to the left corner and then made his game-saver on Iparraguirre moments later. "I read his hips that he was going right and I dove right and saved it," he said.
Alex DiSalvo and Matthew Aprile scored for West, while Christian Martinez and Griffin Weber answered for Central Islip. Then the Bulls' Christopher Hettler nailed the clincher into the left corner as Melgar dived to the right and Smithtown West had a county title.
"Both teams played hard and I'm just glad my team came out on top," Altinerlielmas said.
Lipps thought his team "had the better of the play, but Central Islip showed resiliency. I always say when it comes to penalty kicks, it's all gravy. If we walked away as losers, I'd sleep well. You have to love a game like that."