As the cliche goes, defense wins championships. Sayville coach Val Winter wholeheartedly agrees, which led to a battle of wits with one of his assistant coaches who is more attack-minded.
"We spent the entire year having friendly arguments about what's more important - I won," Winter said.
After making the playoffs for 16 consecutive years under Winter's tutelage, Sayville won the Class A boys soccer state championship, the first in school history.
The Golden Flashes (20-1-1) made a teamwide commitment to defense and held opponents to only four goals in 22 games with 19 shutouts en route to the title.
Sayville goalkeeper Dan Scheck, who has committed to Temple, had four consecutive shutouts in the postseason. Scheck led the Golden Flashes with 11 goals during the regular season, splitting time in goal with Brian Lutcha and Rich Geiger.
"It hasn't really hit in my head that we're the first in history but I'm so proud of my team," Scheck said after defeating Pittsford-Mendon in the state final. "It's what we've worked for the entire season."
Sayville's defensive backfield may have been the best on Long Island this season. Dakota Edwards, a member of the U.S. Academy select under-17/18 team, moved from midfield back to his natural defensive position during the postseason. Edwards, along with sweeper Jared Van Brunt and defensive back Chris Siracusa, formed a nearly impenetrable wall in front of Scheck.
"He's just incredible," Winter said of Edwards. "We always give him the job of marking the toughest forward and he's an incredible player, so highly skilled, so intelligent on the field, nothing bothers him."
While Scheck did his job in goal, Sean Fullam was Sayville's clutch offensive performer during the playoffs. In six postseason games for the Golden Flashes, Fullam scored five goals, three of which were game-winners, and had an assist on a game-winning goal.
"I'll be the guy up top just scrapping and I'm lucky enough that I'm getting balls from my teammates and doing good things with them," Fullam said after winning the state championship in which he scored the winner with 7:38 remaining.
Forward Vincent Sakk assisted on Fullam's championship-winning goal. A day earlier, Fullam assisted on Sakk's winner in the state semifinals.
Robert Hammerle, Jon Paciorek and Travis Redding manned the midfield for Sayville. Hammerle and Redding each scored eight goals.
Sayville's talent and depth was too much for opponents to handle. Fullam said the historic accomplishment will make this year's squad unique.
"I guess this will never be a team that can be replicated," Fullam said. "I don't think many Sayville teams have been this talented.
"It was nice to put one in our record books."