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Ben Hamilton a real show-stopper for Center Moriches soccer team

Ben Hamilton has put on quite a show

Ben Hamilton has put on quite a show for Center Moriches, scoring at least one goal in every game this season. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

It’s Long Island’s smash hit of the season . . . “Hamilton.” And what a show it has been.

Be dazzled by the dancing feet and in-the-air acrobatics of Center Moriches forward Ben Hamilton, who will fire shots from all angles in this production. He has scored more goals this season than any boy playing on any stage, grass or turf. And watch out for breakout performances by the rest of the cast, as the Red Devils are Long Island’s only undefeated, untied boys soccer team.

Critics are raving.

“You can’t pick out any one thing,” Center Moriches coach Chris O’Brien said. “You can’t say he’s the fastest or he’s got the best shot or he’s the best passer. He just does everything at a very high level. And the best thing about him is his work ethic. He’ll never be outworked.”

“He’s dangerous. A special player who only comes around once in a while,” said Southampton coach Dave Riley, whose team has lost twice to Center Moriches this season.

Hamilton, a 6-1, 160-pound senior, has scored 34 goals in 16 games. He hasn’t forgotten his supporting cast either, as he also has 16 assists and leads Long Island with 50 points.

His myriad skills have been especially showcased lately, with 12 goals in the Red Devils’ last five games. In a recent game against Southampton, Hamilton netted three goals in a 4-1 victory. One came off a rebound in front; another on a redirected header and a third with a deft chip shot from the right crease. Hamilton not only scores goals in bunches, he scores them in hunches, anticipating where the ball will go if he doesn’t have it or improvising with either foot when he does.

“It comes with experience and putting in the time year-round,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been playing soccer since kindergarten. Anytime there’s a game on TV, I’m watching it. I play FIFA on Xbox. It’s always about soccer with me, and learning the game.”

Hamilton scored 10 goals as a sophomore, then blossomed into a full-blown star last season, leading Long Island in scoring with 23 goals and 19 assists. Remarkably, he’s been better this year. Despite being double- and triple-teamed, he has scored at least one goal in every game. In addition to his ball skills, Hamilton possesses a long-strider’s speed to quickly join a developing play. “I’m always working on all parts of my game — defending, shooting, passing,” Hamilton said. “I try to be versatile and unpredictable.”

The word has spread. Hamilton has several Division I scholarship offers from schools in New England and on Long Island, according to O’Brien, but hasn’t made his college choice yet. That’s because Hamilton is focused on an important short-term goal: winning a state Class B championship. The Red Devils won the Suffolk title last year but were ousted by Carle Place in the Long Island final on penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation and four overtime periods. “Tough way to lose,” O’Brien said. “Let’s just say there is unfinished business.”

Hamilton’s cast has been all-business since that excruciating defeat. “We were out a month after that game, practicing for next year,” Hamilton said. “We were definitely looking forward to a state championship. We didn’t get it so we’re coming back for it this year. It’s like a little chip on our shoulder. And we know everyone is trying to knock us off.”

There are co-stars on the Red Devils’ marquee that have helped the team win all 12 of its games in Suffolk VII. Junior midfielder Jack Wicks leads the county with 19 assists and senior midfielder Eric Amaya has 12 goals and seven assists. The defense features senior center backs Donald Wood and David Franchi and junior goalkeeper Curtis Copenhaver, a unit that posted six consecutive shutouts in one stretch.

“I have a lot of great help on my team — my midfield, my defense. I just make the right runs, they find me and I do my job,” Hamilton said matter-of-factly.

He’s done the job well enough to put himself in the spotlight. “He has scored goals with his head, with his right foot and with his left foot. He finds space in the defense, even when he’s being marked,” O’Brien said. “He’s got great natural ability with speed. But where I’ve seen him grow the most is his ability to read the game. Sometimes he’s thinking two and three passes ahead. His soccer IQ has grown by leaps and bounds.”

The Red Devils begin defense of their Suffolk title this week, with an eye toward the Long Island championship and beyond. So catch “Hamilton” . . . before the show closes.

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