Sometimes, the counterpunch can be a knockout blow.
Eastport-South Manor’s David Velasquez scored his second goal on a feed from Nick Dittmer less than a minute after Half Hollow Hills West had made it a one-goal game and held on for an exciting 4-3 home victory Tuesday in Suffolk IV.
“We knew we had to put one in right away because they are always attacking,” Dittmer said. “I took it down the wing and served it inside.”
That’s where Velasquez finished with a sideways flick of his right foot. “Angelo [Montalbano] screened the keeper and the defender — a great play. I just put it in,” Vasquez said.
That goal gave the Sharks (8-4-2) a 4-2 lead with 28:46 remaining and came just 34 seconds after Leo Musacchia scored on a penalty kick. “A big goal,” ESM coach Tony Chernis said. “They attack and we counterattack.”
The Colts (11-2-1) fell behind in the second minute of the game when Velasquez finished off a cross from Montalbano. But Hills West’s Marcus Fraser tied it with a left-footer in the box.
The Colts then dominated play for the next 20-plus minutes, putting numerous shots on goalkeeper Jake Thorley (12 saves) and creating a handful of good scoring chances. But the punchers grew arm-weary and ESM answered. Justin Kroin converted a rebound on a pass from Velasquez that got away from the Colts’ keeper.
Then with just 1:45 remaining before halftime, Dittmer unloaded a blast from 20 yards on a pass from Velasquez, who had whiffed with his right foot as he was about to break free down the right wing, but recovered and slipped the ball to Dittmer.
Dittmer returned the favor early in the second half, lofting the ball into the crease, where Velasquez finished. Chernis then moved Velasquez back from midfield to defense to protect the two-goal lead. “With his height [6-1] I thought he’d win some ball in the air that we could clear,” Chernis said.
The strategy worked until Hills West applied pressure after a corner kick Jonah Landow scored to make it 4-3 with 6:18 left. The Colts stayed in attack mode until the very end. “It got a little scary there,” Chernis acknowledged. “We sat back a little too much.”
After the game, the Colts gathered at the far end of the field and awaited word on the North Babylon-West Islip game that coach Doug Gannon was following on his cellphone. When word came that second-place North Babylon had lost, the Colts cheered loudly and celebrated their first league championship since 2013 and eighth for West in the previous 12 years.
Tuesday’s game had two winners.