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Francesco Posillico's goal on free kick gives HHH West victory over East Islip

Francesco Posillico #9 of Half Hollow Hills West

Francesco Posillico #9 of Half Hollow Hills West moves the ball downfield during a Suffolk League III boys soccer match against East Islip on Monday, March 15, 2021. Credit: James Escher

Francesco Posillico just has a knack for free-kick goals.

Whether he’s directing a teammate on where to place the ball, or scoring one himself, "Free-Kick Frankie" usually finds a way.

The Half Hollow Hills West senior scored a golden goal on a free kick from about 20 yards out with 3:05 left in the first overtime as the host Colts defeated scrappy East Islip, 3-2, in a Suffolk III boys soccer match on Monday

"I’m just dangerous on the free kicks I guess," said Posillico, who will attend SUNY Oneonta. "My left foot -- it’s dangerous."

The proof is in the numbers: Posillico, one of Suffolk’s top goal scorers (5) this season, has scored three times on free kicks. (He also remembered scoring a free-kick goal last season from nearly the identical spot as he did on Monday.)

"In 18 years of doing this, he’s got the best left foot I’ve seen," Hills West coach Doug Gannon said. "He showed it [with the first goal on Friday] against Hauppauge, and now with the banger to win it today."

It almost wasn’t a win for Hills West (2-2, 2-0). East Islip, which had a strong wind at its back in the first half, saw senior forward Joe Raso open the scoring in the 28th minute.

But the Colts’ coaching staff made a key adjustment for the second half and put four forwards on the field with the wind now behind them. Antonio Pipitone made his coaches look like geniuses as he scored the equalizer from in close in the 63rd minute on an assist from Spencer Bernak.

Later, Pipitone was about to take a free kick when he made eye contact with the free-kick guru: Posillico.

"He looked at me," Pipitone said, "and pointed in the corner, and I said, ‘You know what, I’m just going to try and bang it in.’ I just curled it in."

The goal, with 5:08 left, gave Hills West a short-lived lead. East Islip, which played tough and aggressively throughout, tied it as defender John Walsh scored with 1:40 remaining to force overtime. Goalkeeper Nick Shields made 12 saves for East Islip (0-2, 0-1).

It was the third overtime contest in Hills West’s first four games (it has won twice in OT).

"I always tell the boys, ‘We have to do whatever we can to find a way to win,’ " Gannon said. "Good teams will sometimes tie those games. Bad teams will lose those games. But the great teams find a way to win in those spots, and we did that today."

Thanks, in large part, to "Free-Kick Frankie."

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