Amityville celebrates their win in the Class A final at...

Amityville celebrates their win in the Class A final at the NYSPHSAA Boys Soccer Championships in Middletown, N.Y., on Sunday. Credit: Adrian Kraus

The last seconds had ticked off the clock at Middletown High’s Faller Field and most of the Amityville boys soccer players raced from their sideline to form a victorious dogpile in front of the their goal.

For nearly a month, its superlative play had somehow gotten better and better to the point that the celebration seemed the inevitable conclusion to the season, with Amityville capturing the state Class A championship. But this one had a distinctly different look. Most of the players shed tears and many were overcome by emotion.

Amityville’s 2022 title season was a triumph while overcoming tragedy.

Senior Roberth Perez, the brightest star in a vast constellation that was the Amityville team, had lost his mother in June and this extraordinarily close-knit group had shared his grief in the months since. Maritza Perez was 50 when she lost an eviscerating months-long battle with cancer.

Senior Hugo Rodriguez, another of Amityville’s signature players, made it only a few steps toward the dogpile before collapsing with emotion just a few feet in front of the bench and weeping uncontrollably. “I just couldn’t handle the emotions," he said. "We’ve been playing for Roberth’s mother, carrying his pain. It was a loss for everyone on this team.”

“I’ve never seen a group so close,” said coach Mike Abbondondolo, his eyes welling up. “It was hard to see a kid — for them to see a friend — go through something like that. . . . They shared his pain. They would do anything for him.”

Perez spent untold hours with his mother at the hospital in her final months. He put a knit bracelet he wore on his ankle upon her wrist to comfort her when he couldn’t be there. And he placed it on her wrist in the casket before the funeral. Perez wore a replica on his wrist through this championship season.

“My father comes home every night from work and cries — and our home is filled with sadness,” Perez said, tears streaking his face. “The only time I get away from that sadness is when I am on the pitch with my teammates. They have been there for me. . . . my Mom has been in their hearts.”

A weepy senior Matthew Katz, Amityville’s rock in the goal, was asked about all the tears amid the joy. "It's hard to explain," he said, "but we’ve been at [Perez's] side through it all and we just feel it inside.”

Amityville (20-1), which suffered a 7-2 loss to Somers in the 2021 state title game, was nothing short of overpowering in this postseason. It won three games to claim the Suffolk A title by an aggregate score of 12-1 and then outscored three foes in the state tournament, 10-2. Its only close call was a 3-2 victory over Nassau A champion Glen Cove in the Long Island title game. It defeated Beacon 4-0 for the state crown, its third overall and first since 2018.

Its potent front line was at its best when the games meant the most. Perez had a goal and three assists and Rodriguez had three goals and one assist in the state tourney. Seniors Stanley Louis and Horace Hibbert had four goals and two goals, respectively, in state play.

Yet there was so much more that went into winning the championship. Katz was splendid in goal. Agile senior Alan Funez, crisp-passing junior Norvin Martinez-Hernandez and senior defensive specialist Keven Acosta all had many brilliant moments. Seniors Edwin Acosta, juniors Oscar Medrano and Jeffrey Hernandez and sophomore John Arango were the on-field glue that held everything together.

“Each guy, in his own way, made sacrifices to put the team ahead of the individual,” Abbondondolo said. “After losing in the championship game a year ago, they understood what it would take to get back and win it and they did it.”


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