Amityville and Half Hollow Hills West were going to have to reinvent themselves for this boys soccer season after their meeting in the 2022 Suffolk Class A title game. Amityville lost seven senior starters off the team that won that game and went on to capture the state championship. The Colts lost nine senior starters.
What is clear after their meeting on Thursday is that Amityville has found a way and Hills West is still looking.
The defending champs couldn’t shake the speedy Colts through a scoreless first half, but scored three times in the second half — the first two goals just 53 seconds apart — and Amityville went on to post a 3-0 Suffolk VII victory at Hills West.
Senior forward Hector Mejia scored twice and Oscar Medrano added the other goal as Amityville (7-0-1, 7-0) remained the team to beat. The Colts (3-5-1, 1-5-1), however, are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in 20 years and can only afford one more loss in their last seven games.
“[Hills West] isn’t what its record says — that was the best team we’ve played,” said Amityville assistant coach Chris Gannon, who held the reins while head coach Mike Abbondondolo fulfilled a school commitment. “We get every team’s best game and they were fast and fair.”
Mejia is a key part of Amityville’s re-tooling. He played only a few minutes in the state title run, but now finds himself at the top of the team’s attack. He broke the ice less than two minutes into the second half by scoring on a penalty kick after he was taken down in the box with 38:18 to play.
“It was one-on-one and I was past my man and ready to shoot,” Mejia said. “The only play he had was to tackle me from behind.”
Moments later Medrano drilled a shot from midfield that the Colts’ keeper initially stopped, but then couldn’t corral as it leaked into the net.
Norvin Martinez-Hernandez passed to Mejia slicing to the right side of the goal and the senior made a shot against the grain to the left to make it 3-0 with 8:44 left.
“I didn’t get a lot of minutes last year, but I loved being a part of what we did,” said Mejia, who has six goals this season. “I like playing this role on this team. We enjoy making assists as much as goals.”
Freshman back Edenilson Vallardes — who made the team as a seventh grader but had hardly played — was a rock on defense, twice deflecting Colts shots out of the Amityville end. “It’s better than watching,” he said of his new role.
“He could be one of the best players we’ve ever had,” Chris Gannon said.
Amityville this week also added Ecuadorian goalie Israel Torres and the 6-1senior directed the defense with a sophisticated eye and also made four saves.
“We had big roster turnover and we’re having growing pains,” Colts coach Doug Gannon — Chris’ brother — said. “We’ve been coming up on the short end, but we have the effort. I hope we’re beginning to turn it around.”