The bright lights of the playoffs and the intensity of golden goal soccer have become just another day at the office for Calhoun during its postseason run.
The Colts entered their third overtime of the playoffs, and ended it the same way as the others, with a goal to keep their season alive. This time it was Eric Stewart tapping in a cross from Alex Sipos 2:39 into overtime that lifted Calhoun to a 3-2 win over Brentwood Sunday for the Long Island AA championship at Diamond in the Pines and a spot in the state tournament semifinals.
“We have the idea of what we have to do in overtime to get it done,” Stewart said. “I think we stuck with it. We kept our composure and finished it off in the end.”
Sipos struck first, netting a sliding shot from the right side 22 minutes into the game. The 1-0 lead lasted through halftime. Then Brentwood’s Roberto Ventura sent a ball to the right side with 20 minutes left in the game, getting to it himself and volleying it into the net to even the score.
Stewart snagged his first goal on a chip with 7:56 left, but Ventura found the net once more off a rebound from Isaac Jasmin’s shot with 3:59 remaining.
“He’s one of the best forwards I’ve ever seen,” Sipos said of Ventura.
Ventura’s stunner helped close a tumultuous half that left Calhoun (13-2) on its heals, but the team wasn’t counting itself out after upset playoff wins against Hicksville and Massapequa.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions and I just told them ‘we’ve been here before, we know how to handle this situation’ and at that point everyone is exhausted,” coach Jim Cantley said. “It was all about heart. You had to dig deep.”
It turned out Calhoun had one more run in it at just the right time.
“It was a great play by Sipos, down the sideline,” Stewart said. “He takes it past a defender, he takes it [to me] wide open into the open net.”
The players swarmed the field as exhaustion turned into the realization that they had just become the first Calhoun team to win the title since 1975.
“Just to do it with these boys is special,” Sipos said.
Keeper David Futterman made 10 saves, stopping efficient Brentwood (16-3-2) runs, and Joe Thomann facilitated chances from start to finish. They’re on to the state championship, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t time to have their cake and eat it too.
“We accomplished the county finals, which we really wanted,” Thomann said. “We said ‘all right, the next step is just icing on the cake’ and we took it and it was great to see.”