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Center Moriches boys soccer wins state Class B title

Center Moriches boys soccer coach Chris O'Brien spoke after his team's 4-0 win in Sunday's state Class B final in Middletown. (Credit: John Boell / Newsday)

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — Ben Hamilton remembers standing in the parking lot of Center Moriches High School as a fourth-grader when the Red Devils boys soccer team came home with the state Class B title trophy.

“Once I found out what a state championship was in 2009, I was like, ‘That’s what I want,’ ” Hamilton said. “ ‘I want that.’ ”

Now, Hamilton and his teammates will have the unique perspective of being on the bus with some state title hardware themselves. The senior forward had two goals and an assist as Center Moriches blanked Valatie Ichabod Crane, 4-0, in the state Class B boys soccer final at Middletown High School’s Faller Field on Sunday.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hamilton, who ends the season as Long Island’s leader in goals (40) and points (61). “It’s really a dream come true for all of us — not just me — this whole team. It’s what we always wanted.”

Center Moriches (21-0) got just what it wanted when a corner kick from Jack Wicks was deflected and reached Hamilton, who gave the Red Devils a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute.

The duo hooked up again in the 42nd minute and Center Moriches led 2-0. Matt Alifano took a feed from Eric Amaya and blasted a rocket into the back of the net in the 46th minute and the Red Devils’ advantage was three. Hamilton set up Amaya in the 70th minute to close the scoring.

Goalkeeper Curtis Copenhaver made sure the Red Devils kept a clean sheet with six saves, but it was Hamilton who gave his team the cushion it needed.

“I always go in with feeling I need to score for us to win,” he said. “When I do, it always turns out good. We’re 21-0 so there’s no better way to end it.”

Wicks did one better than Hamilton nine years ago. He and his parents, Michael and Jen, traveled to Oneonta to watch the Red Devils’ 2009 state title game.

“It’s surreal right now,” Wicks said. “It’s like a dream. I pinch myself twice a day thinking I’ve got to wake up.”

Red Devils coach Chris O’Brien had similar feelings.

“You like to be the best at what you do, and we have the ability to say that now,” said the 21-year coach. “I don’t know how many times you can say that in a lifetime, but we can certainly say that today.”

Afterward, Hamilton had visions of what the Red Devils’ bus ride was going to be like, especially when the squad gets close to Center Moriches.

“We got the fire department and police escorting us back to school,” he said, smiling. “I guess we’ll have to see what it’s like, but I’m sure it’ll be unbelievable.”

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