Clay Pine collided with a defender, fell to the ground and took a chance . . . realizing a lifelong dream in the process.
Pine sent an off-balance shot inside the box, on an assist from Anthony Buffolino, past the goalkeeper five minutes into overtime to complete a comeback and give Carle Place a 2-1 win over Wheatley at Adelphi Saturday. It clinched the Frogs’ fourth Nassau Class B championship in five years.
The comeback started and ended in seven minutes of gameplay, but Pine had been thinking about a moment like this for years.
“Forever, since I was a little kid,” Pine said. “It was amazing. I can’t explain it.”
The play would have been nothing more than a dream had Tommy Browne not saved the day in the waning moments of regulation. After a scrum in front of the net, Browne pounced on the ball that trickled out in front of him as the clock ticked down. He scored to tie the game, giving the Frogs the chance to play in overtime.
“I was really surprised,” Browne said of finding the ball at his feet.
Once the equalizer went in, momentum started to shift. Even though the Frogs found themselves going into the wind, they didn’t have a problem keeping up the pace that had given them their first breakthrough.
“We knew we had to come out big, come out strong, can’t let down,” Pine said. “We had to change the momentum onto our side and keep pushing until we finally got that last goal.”
While it took 38 minutes for Browne to find the back of the net, he had been making his presence known from the start. He took shots and headed off Wheatley runs, sometimes at midfield and other times in front of his own net. After Connor Feit was awarded a penalty with 6:48 left in the first, Browne lined up for the kick. Wheatley’s keeper, Zach Jacobs, made the save to keep the game scoreless.
“You just had to keep on playing your game and the chances will come,” said Browne, who had 16 goals and six assists in the regular season.
“He just doesn’t stop,” coach Allen Foraker said. “He doesn’t take anything for granted. He keeps moving.”
Alec Marcus scored in the 46th minute when he got a chip pass from Coby Kamhi and took off down the right side, slotting in the goal and giving Wheatley the lead. It was the only goal Chris Ruscillo allowed while making five saves, including a spinning grab with 10 seconds left in the first half to preserve the then-scoreless game.
“I’m a big guy,” the 6-5 Ruscillo said. “I have to come out and get those balls when I can and I can’t let any of the little kids come and take it. I have to go out big and go get it.”
Carle Place’s title is its second consecutive final win against Wheatley. Last year’s run ended in a 1-0 overtime loss against Southampton in the Long Island Championship, but Tuesday’s game at Hofstra will give the Frogs another opportunity against Suffolk champion Center Moriches.
“We have practice tomorrow morning early,” Ruscillo said. “We’re going to enjoy this and get back at it tomorrow and trust each other.”