The Commack boys soccer team’s group chat this season was titled: "Revenge Tour."
The Cougars have been on a mission since November 2019, when they failed to advance in penalty kicks in the Suffolk Class AA final against eventual state champion Brentwood.
"Ever since that loss, we had this ‘Revenge Tour’ in our minds," defender Brandon Trent said. "We had to come back and we had to avenge everyone from last year. We needed to do this."
Thanks to a big night from Trent and a huge second half by goalkeeper Dario Maricevic, the Cougars’ "2021 Revenge Tour" was a successful one. Trent had an assist on the tying goal and the winner in the 59th minute as top-seeded Commack held off No. 2 Newfield, 2-1, for the Suffolk Class AA championship at Diamond in the Pines on Saturday.
The two teams entered the match with a combined record of 30-0. It was a Suffolk final of unbeatens that lived up to its billing before a raucous crowd in Coram.
"Newfield is so damn good. Holy moly," Commack coach Dave Moran said. "I think our quarterfinal and semifinal games prepared us for what we just got here."
Newfield (16-1) scored in the second minute when Shane Siegel converted a feed from Brendan Maguire for the only goal of the first half. The Wolverines — in search of their first Suffolk boys soccer crown — hit the left post in the 10th minute.
"I knew one goal wasn’t going to be enough," said Newfield coach Jamie Santiago, who also led the Wolverines to the finals in 2016 and 2018. "In 2018, I was way more devastated. I know how good my team played [Saturday night]."
Trent found Jack Lagner, who scored the equalizer in the 49th minute for Commack (15-0). Ten minutes later, a pass from Nikola Kovacevic reached Trent, who buried the winner for the Cougars.
Kovacevic, who volunteered to take over at center back for injured defender Justin Salerno after Commack's semifinal win over Brentwood, made a key stop in the second half on a Newfield scoring opportunity.
"I just went down on one knee," Kovacevic said, "and it got stuck under my shin."
Kovacevic noticed a difference in goalkeeper Maricevic.
"He woke up in the second half," he said. "Something changed in him."
There was a change, actually. The Stony Brook-bound Maricevic changed his goalkeeper gloves at halftime after struggling with the ones he used all season, which finally lost their grip.
"I’m not going to make any excuses," he said, "but I couldn’t really catch the ball [in the first half]."
Maricevic was spectacular in the second half, making six of his eight saves in the final 40 minutes, including some key point-blank stops to deny the equalizer.
‘Their goalie was the difference," said Santiago, who made it a point to personally congratulate Maricevic after the game. "That’s how it goes in the game of soccer sometimes."
One year, you lose in penalty kicks; the next, you rally to win a Suffolk title — Commack’s first since 2014.
"This means the world, honestly, not just for us but the Commack community and for the players last year," Maricevic said. "We knew that if we were going to come back here, we had unfinished business to take care of."
Revenge Tour completed.