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Boys soccer preview: Amityville ready to make another title run

Amityville's Oscar Hernandez controls the ball during a

Amityville's Oscar Hernandez controls the ball during a Class A state semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

Amityville’s boys soccer team goes after its third Long Island Class A title and second state championship in three years with a team that is unusual in its talent mix. “It’s a unique team,” coach Mike Abbondondolo said, “because we have experience yet we are young.”

That’s not a contradiction. The Warriors feature only one senior — returning Newsday All-Long Island striker Oscar Hernandez — but has a dynamite junior class plus one starter each from the freshman and sophomore classes. “We’re solid at every position,” Abbondondolo said. “Most of these guys won the Long Island championship last year and a handful of them were on the team that won the state championship in 2015.”

The latter was the first in school history and Abbondondolo said his team is driven to add a second state crown to the trophy case. “The loss last year [in overtime in the state semifinals] revitalized us,” he said. “We have a bar that we’ve set for ourselves. If we don’t hit it, it feels like a loss, even if we win the game.”

Among the other teams Abbondondolo believes will challenge Amityville (15-5-1 last season) for Suffolk A supremacy are Hauppauge, which drops down from AA, and perennial power Glenn.

Hernandez is the top returning scorer, with 13 goals and seven assists last season. “He’s dynamic. He can shoot with his right or his left. He’s good in the air and he’s got good vision,” Abbondondolo said of one of his four captains.

The other three are juniors — center back Carlos Ponce, left back Angel Zavala and junior forward Rolman Guardado. “Rolman scored two goals in the state semifinal as a freshman and got hurt last year for our playoff run. He’s chomping at the bit to get back at it this year,” Abbondondolo said.

Guardado’s brother Jeremy, a freshman, will start, too. “He’s the smallest guy on the team but he has a super high soccer IQ,” Abbondondolo said. “He doesn’t have a set position but he can play anywhere on the field, from striker to defense.”

Sophomore Jeffrey Saravia is a returning starter on defense.

Junior transfer Kymani Hines, from the nation of Jamaica, moved into the district and will start up front. “He’s dynamic like Oscar and he also can shoot with either foot,” Abbondondolo said.

Another member of a junior class Abbondondolo called, “by the most special group we’ve ever had here,” is center back Henry Martinez. “He does everything — he wins balls in the air, he defends corners, he scores corners.”

But Amityville will cut no corners in its title quest. “This is a hard-working group and I have confidence in them against anybody,” Abbondondolo said. “We know it’s day-by-day and practice-by-practice, but the one thing on our minds is to win the state championship again.”

CLASS AA

The Suffolk soccer coaches picked Newfield as the top team in a loaded Class AA in a preseason poll.

The Wolverines return eight starters from last season’s team that lost in the Suffolk AA final to Brentwood, including junior forward Rafael Celanti, who had 15 goals and two assists. Junior Nick Gomez will control the midfield, while senior Adrian Izaguirre anchors the back line for Newfield.

Brentwood — which has won nine of the last 13 county titles — will rely on seniors Bryan Argueta and Wilber Gomez to defend its Suffolk AA title. Commack, led by senior Bobby Abshire, was picked third in a loaded class. Half Hollow Hills East was voted fourth and features three-year varsity defender Matt Barbery.

Floyd could be one of the most dangerous teams in the class, and boasts seniors Evan Meinke and Giovanni Fiore to round out the top five.

CLASS B

Center Moriches and Mattituck figure to be the top two teams in this class followed by Babylon.

Ben Hamilton led Suffolk with 42 points last season, including 23 goals and 19 assists for the defending Suffolk Class B champ Red Devils, who return every starter. Hamilton is joined by seniors Eric Amaya, Liam Pulsipher, David Franchi and Donald Wood.

Mattituck will rely heavily on goalkeeper James Jacobs and forward Alparslan Kilinc. Babylon graduated six starters from last season but looks to juniors Eric Carlson and Tim Hartigan.

CLASS C

There are seven Suffolk teams in this class. Southold, led by Ryan Herrmann, is one of 12 returning players. Pierson will count on midfielder Sam Warne, as the Whalers boast eight returning starters.

CLASS D

Smithtown Christian is the lone Class D team on Long Island. The team will play in Suffolk League VIII.

With John Boell

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