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Gianluca Santacruz helps Southampton clinch Suffolk VII soccer title

Southampton's Gianluca Santacruz #10 celebrates his second half

Southampton's Gianluca Santacruz #10 celebrates his second half goal with teammates during a Suffolk boys soccer game on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Credit: Daniel De Mato

How's this for a hat trick?

Gianluca Santacruz notched an assist to set the Mariners' single-season record with 23. His pass set up Jesse Scanlon for the first of his two goals that gave him a school-record 27 for the season, according to coach Dave Riley. And most importantly, Southampton clinched the Suffolk VII boys soccer title with an action-packed 6-3 victory over host Mattituck on Monday.

"It was a barnburner of a game," Riley said. " Great soccer. A high-scoring, intense match."

Santacruz got the party started in the second minute when he controlled a header from Devon O'Brien in front and deftly slipped it past the Tuckers' keeper. Johnny Navan converted a header in front on a pass from Elijah Wingfield and Santacruz found Scanlon open in the middle for a right-footer that made it 3-0 with 12:39 left in the first half.

Given that Southampton (10-0) is the only unbeaten, untied team in Suffolk, it appeared that the Mariners would be able to cruise. But Mattituck (6-3) had other ideas, much to the delight of an SRO crowd that filled the bleachers and lined the fence adjacent to the field.

Impressive sophomore Axel Rodriguez-Canal scored after a solo dash down the right side with 10:18 left in the first half. The Tuckers kept attacking and Rodriguez-Canal scored again, on a header off a perfect corner kick by Carlos Campos, to make it 3-2 with 3:31 left before halftime. Three minutes into the second half, Campos blasted home the tying goal off the right post on a majestic, long, curling direct kick from the right wing.

"The first half was ours until the end when momentum changed jerseys for a while," Riley said. "At that point, it was important that we keep our composure."

Coolest of all were seniors Santacruz and Scanlon, longtime friends, team co-captains and teammates on their elite club team. Santacruz, who now has 17 goals and leads Suffolk in scoring with 40 points, put the Mariners ahead for good with a brilliant 30-yard blast with 27:36 left. "A laser," Riley called it.

Of his rip into the upper right corner, Santacruz said: "I saw the ball in the air. It came to me, I was wide open and I just took the shot."

Scanlon believed his pal's shot, "put us back on track."

The Mariners stayed that way, icing the game with late pressure that drew two consecutive penalty kicks. Scanlon, who leads Suffolk with the 27 goals, converted the first one with 5:56 left and Hunter West followed suit with 4:26 left.

Goal No. 1, a league title was achieved. Still ahead are goals No. 2 (county title), 3 (Long Island title) and 4 (state title).

"We think this could be a special season," Scanlon said.


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