Port Jefferson boys got only thing they wanted: The state title
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The senior core of the Port Jefferson boys soccer team had big visions for their high school careers as early as elementary school. They felt they had the talent to put their stamp on the Port Jefferson program and elevate it to prominence.
They turned out to be prophetic. Port Jefferson went 21-0 to win its second consecutive state Class C championship.
"Honestly, I did think we would be this good," Port Jefferson goalkeeper Gabe Davis said. "We won counties as freshmen. Since sixth grade, we said once we are juniors and seniors, we were going to be awesome. We knew we could do this."
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Senior midfielder Stan Klasek said: "I knew in my heart the core of the team would get at least one. Getting the first as a junior was awesome. This was even better."
Winning the state championship was a new experience last season, and as soon as they left the award ceremony last year, they immediately pointed to winning a state title in 2012, and they had every starter returning. The title came with a 1-0 win over Lansing on Nov. 18.
"We said it from the beginning," senior midfielder Connor Crovello said. "It was state championship or bust. If we fell short of that, we wouldn't consider it successful. When you set the standard that high and finally get it, it feels pretty incredible."
It wasn't without some bumps. The regular season was smooth sailing and included a 1-0 win over Sayville, the top seed in Suffolk Class A. The Royals won every league game by more than one goal except two. The test came in the postseason, especially with the impact of superstorm Sandy.
"It was tough because we didn't know our game schedule," senior defender Gerard Racanelli said. "We played four games in five days, which is very tough. We were exhausted in the fourth game. We were able to pull through. We had pressure of being expected to win, but the thing about this team is the maturity level. We handled the pressure and didn't look ahead."
Someone who handled the pressure well was senior Blake Bohlen. He scored eight goals in six postseason games, including the lone goals in the state semifinals and final. He also scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Rhinebeck in the Southeast Regional final, and he scored 33 for the season.
"A lot of us grew up together playing soccer," Bohlen said. "We knew we would be the first ever state champions at the school. We wanted to do it as sophomores. It feels amazing. We set high standards and pulled through two years in a row. It was a perfect season. I'll never forget this team."
It was all business for Port Jefferson until they were awarded the championship medals. After each playoff game, there was no celebration.
"There wasn't going to be closure on the four years of our high school careers without this championship," Davis said. "This was the only way we could finish. We left a legacy we want."
Said Port Jefferson coach John Poulianos: "It's an another amazing run. It's even more amazing than last year because there was so much more pressure and expectations. This is even better than last year."