Cory Santangelo was the only player on Sayville's boys soccer team who had been here before, and desperately wanted that to change.
Santangelo, a senior, is the only remaining player from Sayville's state title team in 2010 -- the last time the Golden Flashes won a Suffolk title.
Santangelo patrolled the midfield and made the play that led to the game's only goal as top-seeded Sayville beat No. 3 Glenn, 1-0, in the Suffolk Class A final at Dowling yesterday. Sayville (17-1-1) will face Jericho for the Long Island Class A title at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
"[Santangelo] dominated the midfield in every game we've played for the last three years. He's just a man among boys in the middle of the field," coach Val Winter said. "The value of a player doesn't always show up in how many goals you score, even though he had 13 goals and 16 assists this year, but he wins about every ball in the midfield."
Said Santangelo: "I have the experience and I know what it takes, so I'm glad I was able to pass that on to my teammates."
In the 12th minute, Santangelo gathered the ball in Glenn's end, split a double-team and fired a shot from 30 yards that Glenn keeper Max Karen tipped over the crossbar. That set up a corner kick, where Justin Siracusa sent the ball into the box and Santangelo headed in front, and eventually after a scramble, Michael Gromling finished to give the Golden Flashes a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
"You have a big obligation playing forward to follow up shots and that's how that goal was scored today," Gromling said. "I just took the opportunity to crash the net no matter where the ball went, and right when it came loose I knocked it in."
Glenn (12-3-4) had a chance late in the first half when Jonathan Schefer had a clear shot from 15 yards, but it went right into the chest of Sayville keeper Alex Spaun (four saves).
Glenn cranked up the pressure in the final 20 minutes. With 16:22 left, Glenn had a chance when Spaun came out of the net and dove forward to punch the ball clear, but with the net open and the ball then loose at the top of the box, Sayville's Spencer Andrews thwarted the chance when he knocked it out of bounds. Less than a minute later, Glenn's Brian Lopez had a direct free kick from about 50 yards that sailed on net, but Spaun leaped and knocked it off the crossbar and then had a defender clear the zone after a scramble in front.
Spaun earned his 12th shutout and third in the postseason, as Sayville won each of its three playoff games by a 1-0 score.
"My defense came up big and they stayed strong," Spaun said. "We're always trying to score more but we've had tough games and there's been a lot of pressure, but our defense has held strong."