Smithtown West's Steve Dovi knows he rarely makes a flashy play, so he takes great pride in helping to keep the opposition scoreless, which has become a trend.
As the captain and leader of what many soccer coaches have called "the stingiest defense on Long Island,'' Dovi helped Smithtown West defeat Smithtown East, 3-0, Wednesday in League III. Host Smithtown West (7-0) has allowed only one goal all season.
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"I don't have many highlights during a game, so putting up zeros is the main way to show how good we can be,'' said Dovi, whom many consider one of Long Island's top defenders. "I would've rather us had given up zero goals, but I'll take one allowed so far.''
Behind defensive stalwarts Dovi, Nicholas Albanese and Alex DiSalvo, who each won several balls in the air and triggered offensive possessions, Smithtown West extended its shutout streak to five. West's Adem Altinerlielmas had three saves against East (5-2).
"If I would say there is anything that really sticks out for us, I would say it's our defensive unit,'' coach Tom Lips said.
Garrett Sweeney scored twice. His first goal came on an unusual play when he headed a ball into the back of the net with 46 seconds left in the first half. The ball had deflected off the post after a shot by Luke Frederick.
"I was just in the right place there and I kind of felt that was all the defense needed,'' Sweeney said. "They are very strong and they're very tough to break down.''
On probably the highlight-reel play of the game, West sophomore Matthew McDonnell swiftly dribbled through three defenders, then took the keeper one-on-one and kicked the ball into the back of the net. McDonnell put West ahead 2-0 nine minutes into the second half, and Sweeney added his second goal with 10 minutes left.
For West, three goals proved plenty.
"I have confidence in our defense to defend a one-goal lead,'' Dovi said, "but we'll always take a two- or three-goal cushion.''