Moosah Khanat's second-half goal leads Hills West to win, League IV title
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Moosah Khanat had seen enough.
With 30 minutes left in the game against host Hauppauge, the Half Hollow Hills West forward, who is one of the most reserved leaders in Suffolk high school soccer, barked at his teammates, "Come on, what are you guys doing!"
"I was mad because we weren't communicating in the back, so I had to say something," said Khanat after the 1-0 win Thursday in League IV.
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The defense responded, and less than three minutes later, a fired-up Khanat, Hills West's leading scorer, connected for the game's only goal.
After one of his shots hit the crossbar with 30 seconds left in the first half, Khanat missed again, once more hitting the crossbar less than two minutes into the second half. Yet when Hauppauge's goalkeeper decided to make a quick throw to a defender, the ball instead found Khanat, who saw an opening and chipped it in the back of the net on two bounces.
Hills West (10-0-2) clinched the League IV regular-season title.
Hauppauge (7-3-2) did everything it could defensively, especially in the first half, to make it tough, however. PJ Conteras made several key clears late, won many balls in the air and consistently marked Richard Mastrangelo, Hills West's second leading scorer.
"They played with a lot of emotion in the first half and that's how Hauppauge plays," Hills West coach Doug Gannon said. "They came out fired up and we had to weather that storm."
Behind Cole Tobias, Scott Weinzimer and Jaylan White, Hills West's defense matched Hauppauge's intensity in the second half and notched its 10th shutout. Hills West dominated possession in the second half and if not for the play of Hauppauge goalkeeper Joey Scuderi, who made a few point-blank saves late, the margin might have been wider.
"This was our toughest matchup so far," Tobias said. "It could have gone either way but we made sure the ball was cleared solidly every time."
After the win, Hills West players swarmed the field and piled on top of one another to celebrate the school's seventh league title in eight years.
Khanat stayed behind and instead only embraced Gannon. Seconds later, he barked at his teammates once more, this time instructing them to line up and shake hands with the Hauppauge players.
"Moosah is a senior and quiet leader who does it on the field," Gannon said. "He's been living and breathing Hills West soccer for three years and this is his opportunity."