Babylon’s Michael Gimeli was brutally honest about the way he performed this season.
"I’ve had a tough season," the forward said. "I’ve been inconsistent."
"He’s been our best player in practice," said coach Dennis McGovern, leaving out that Gimeli had struggled in games.
But Saturday, in Babylon’s biggest match of the season, Gimeli was the best, or at the very least, the most effective player on the pitch.
He scored two first-half goals as No. 3 Babylon won its first Suffolk Class B boys soccer title since 2005 with a 2-1 victory over top-seeded Center Moriches at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.
After a non-league loss against Amityville, Center Moriches (10-2) had surrendered only two goals in its last 10 games before Saturday. Gimeli scored two in the first 28 minutes of the championship. He had only two goals all season.
His first goal came in the ninth minute when he scored on a shot from the right side that hit just inside the left post.
Still, McGovern was concerned. "It was huge," he said. "But I thought we scored too soon, because we might have poked the bear."
That’s because Center Moriches had beaten Babylon, 4-0, on March 23.
"They’re loaded. They have a few [NCAA Division] D-I kids," McGovern said. "Our kids came out that day, and were in awe of them."
Not in the B final. Gimeli took advantage of a deflection off a corner kick and scored to give Babylon a 2-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Less than a minute later, a CM player was given a red card. The Red Devils would have to play a man down for the final 51 minutes.
Still, Center Moriches — which won Long Island B titles from 2016-18 — scored four minutes into the second half. Hofstra-bound Michael Luongo, who missed significant time in the first half with a leg injury, made a great individual effort on a breakaway to cut the deficit in half.
But Babylon (10-3) limited the Red Devils’ chances, including with about four minutes left in the game when Gavin Conboy and goalkeeper Eric Hoffman combined for a key stop in the box.
"It doesn’t matter if you’re the first, second, third or fourth seed," Conboy said. "You still have to play your best."
"I just wanted to win, Gimeli said. "I wanted to help us win a championship."