Carlos Rivera and Olvin Palma's phones buzzed with text messages from former teammates Friday in the hours before No. 4 Huntington's Suffolk AA boys soccer quarterfinal against No. 5 Central Islip.
They all had the same tenor: avenge the Blue Devils' loss to Central Islip in the 2013 semifinals.
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The result -- a 2-0 Huntington victory -- said the message had been clearly received.
"It feels good because we're not playing just for us," Rivera said. "We're playing for the fans and for the people that were on the team back [in 2013]."
Huntington coach John Pagano said his team's offensive game plan focused on creating opportunities in transition, where Rivera's speed could be featured.
"We did that a couple of times," Pagano said, "and we were able to capitalize."
With 15 minutes left in the first half, Rivera drew a foul in transition. He took his free kick from a few yards outside the 18-yard box and saw it deflect off a defender and into the net.
"Even if he didn't deflect it," Rivera said, "I knew that ball was going in because the keeper was off his position."
Nine minutes later, the Blue Devils (14-1-2) attacked in numbers. Wilber Parada headed a ball toward the goal, and with Huntington forwards surrounding him, a pressured Central Islip defender accidentally kicked it into the net.
"They made very few mistakes," Central Islip coach Johnny Velez said, "and they capitalized on the mistakes that we made."
Central Islip (11-4-2) had its chances, particularly early in the first half and near the midway point of the second half. The Musketeers' dynamic trio of forwards Rances Reneau, Christian Villalta and Jorge Magana used impressive speed and skill to create several opportunities. But each shot either narrowly missed or was stopped by Huntington's Nat Amato (five saves).
After the match, Rivera noticed the dejected Reneau sitting on the pitch. Rivera went over to him, shared some words and helped him to his feet.
"I told him to pick his head up and to pick his team up because they did great," Rivera said. "They're a great team and they have great players."
Huntington will make its second county semifinal appearance in three years, against No. 1 Brentwood on Monday at 1 p.m. Last time, the Blue Devils got this far as an upstart No. 15 seed that caught opponents off guard. Expectations are different this time around.
"We knew we were going to make it this far," Palma said. "We had a goal set in our minds, and this was our goal -- to keep going to the finals."