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Calhoun edged in boys Class AA state soccer semifinal

Calhoun's Eric Stewart tries to settle the ball

Calhoun's Eric Stewart tries to settle the ball while pressured from behind by New RochelleÕs Javier Amezcua during a Class AA semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Credit: Adrian Kraus / Adrian Kraus

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — Throughout its historic postseason run, Calhoun’s boys soccer team had never been separated from its opponent by more than one goal.

The Colts had grown so accustomed to playing — and winning — close games that no scenario frightened them.

Then they entered halftime of Saturday’s Class AA state semifinal with a three-goal lead over New Rochelle, and their season collapsed from beneath them.

The Huguenots scored three goals in a seven-minute stretch early in the second half, added another in overtime and stunned Calhoun, 4-3, to advance to the championship.

Eric Stewart had two goals for Calhoun. Harwan Alzuabidi scored twice, including the winner in the 87th minute.

“Up three goals is probably the worst situation you can be in,” senior captain Michael Harten said. “They score one goal, and the momentum shifts. Then they score another, and it’s a horrible score to be up by. You need to be up by one more to put the dagger in it, but we didn’t do that.”

Calhoun coach Jim Cantley urged his team at halftime to get that fourth goal. But at the time, the Colts (13-3) seemed more likely to score three more goals than none.

Stewart and Alex Sipos had carved up New Rochelle’s defense in the first half. In the fifth minute, Sipos slipped a through ball down the left side. Stewart chased it into the 18-yard box, beat New Rochelle goalkeeper Daniel Ayala (six saves) to the ball and deposited a shot into the empty net.

Eight minutes later, Nealson Gil fed Ryan Hilke, who sent a through ball from the midfield to Sipos streaking down the left side. The sophomore scored to double Calhoun’s lead.

Sipos created another threat in the 27th minute, when he ripped a shot on goal from the right side of the box. Ayala could only bat it away, and Stewart corralled the rebound and tapped the ball into the net.

“I think we just had time to turn and make a play,” said Stewart, a senior captain who led the Colts with 18 goals and eight assists this year. “We had all the momentum and we just lost it in the second half.”

Between the 45th and 52nd minutes, Christian Valencia, Alzuabidi and Omar Espinoza each scored for New Rochelle (11-4-4). Like the Colts, the Huguenots have marched through the postseason in impressive fashion. They were the No. 8 seed in Section I and upset No. 1 Mamaroneck and No. 5 Scarsdale on penalty kicks before defeating No. 3 Arlington, 3-0, in the final.

Despite this season-ending loss, the Colts will always be the 2016 Nassau and Long Island champions. They won three of their four previous playoff games in overtime, defeating prestigious programs Massapequa and Brentwood along the way to earn what Cantley said was their first state semifinal appearance.

“When you get up here, you want to try to make history and make more history than we already did,” senior captain Joe Thomann said. “But it was a great season.”


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