First, Alex Garcia played astronomer, correctly assessing the angle of the sun to determine where he should place his corner kick. Later, Garcia played physicist, correctly assessing the speed of his teammate to determine where he should direct his pass.
Using that combination of science and skill, Garcia registered two crafty assists Wednesday to lead Ward Melville to a 3-1 victory over host Sachem North in a Suffolk I boys soccer game.
The Patriots (6-2-1) broke a 1-1 tie with 12:28 left in the first half, when Jared Lee headed it home from in front on Garcia's high, floating corner kick.
"I was judging the play and I saw the sun was in the keeper's eye," Garcia said. "Usually on corners I drive it hard off a player at the near post, but because of the sun, I put it higher and he couldn't read the play."
Garcia was in the middle of a few other scoring opportunities as Ward Melville held a territorial advantage but could not capitalize. His shot from in front off a feed from Zach Slutsky went high late in the first half, and another shot moments later was just wide.
"I felt we had control of the game but couldn't finish," Patriots coach Jon Stecker said. "That kept them in the game. We had some unluckiness, too."
The first bad break for Ward Melville came when the Flaming Arrows (4-4-1) tied it at 1 on Nick Plate's free kick that caromed off the wall of players in front and past goalkeeper Peter Jesperson, who made five saves in his first varsity start.
Even more maddening was a header by Mike Montoya early in the second half that hit the crossbar and bounced off the post, keeping the score 2-1. It nearly became 2-2 when Jesperson saved a leaping header by the Arrows' 6-6 defender Nick Kuster. Jesperson made an even better play three minutes later when he made a diving stop of Kuster's right-footed rocket off another corner kick.
Garcia clinched the victory with his ninth assist of the season. From near midfield, he sent a pass down the right wing to a streaking Montoya, who this time put it cleanly in the back of the net.
"It was a quick start on a free kick and I saw their back on the right side was pinching," Garcia said. "I knew if I put it there, my guy was faster and would beat him to the ball."