When Anoune Basse chases after a ball, the anticipation of what could happen next is palpable on East Islip’s sideline.
Teammates rise. Some jump anxiously. Others shout, excited as their speedy junior forward races to make a play.
“Oh, it’s definitely an advantage,” Basse said. “I know I’m fast.”
So fast that one slight mistake by the defense could turn a game. Half Hollow Hills West discovered that to be true on Tuesday, when Basse tracked down Mike Sannito’s well-placed through ball into the box, evaded a defender and finished in the 8th minute.
The goal stood for 72 more minutes, and host East Islip stunned Hills West, 1-0, despite playing without captain and leading scorer Adam Raso.
“It’s the most speed I’ve seen in a high school soccer kid,” coach Ray Lang said.
Basse has not even had much time to make an impression. He only joined the team recently, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Deer Park on Sept. 23 to snap East Islip’s three-game skid. The Redmen entered that match 1-5 in Suffolk IV. With two straight wins, their chances to finish their 14-game league slate at .500 — the benchmark for a playoff berth — have improved tremendously.
“It’s just so fun to watch,” senior captain and defender Doug Carpluk said. “We didn’t have him early in the season, and it really hurt us. Since he’s come back, he’s been a spark for us. He does whatever he’s told to do. He works hard. He gets in there and makes plays, and that’s what we need from him.”
With Raso (six goals in 2016) sidelined with an ankle injury, the Redmen were forced to play conservatively.
“I couldn’t go at them,” Lang said, “so I had to be more defensive-minded and look for the breakaway, that one opportunity, which came early. Then we just had to hang on, stay with it and play very good defense.”
Hills West did not put many threatening shots on goal, but the Redmen made an impressive last-minute stand. Jonathan Munn (seven saves) punched out a dangerous ball with about 40 seconds remaining. Hills West regained possession, but after a deflection in the box, East Islip’s Ryan Scala cleared the ball out of bounds near midfield to all but seal the game.
“I think we’ve improved,” Basse said. “I thought we were going down a little bit, but I think we’re on our way up.”