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Honor brothers combine to score Ward Melville winner

Ward Melville's Nick Honor moves the ball downfield

Ward Melville's Nick Honor moves the ball downfield during the first half of a Suffolk boys' soccer Class AA first round playoff game against host North Babylon on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. He scored the lone goal of the match with 5:19 remaining in the second half as Ward Melville held on to win 1-0. Credit: James Escher

What kind of system does the Ward Melville boys soccer team use? Why, the Honor system, of course.

Sophomore Nick Honor scored off a cross from his brother Kyle, a senior, with 5:19 remaining to give the No. 9-seeded Patriots a 1-0 victory over host No. 8 North Babylon on Tuesday in a Suffolk AA first-round playoff game. They will play at No. 1 Brentwood on Friday.

"I guess it was the brotherly combo," Kyle said with a laugh, but admitted it wasn't exactly a play the two boys designed in the backyard and saved for this occasion.

"I got the ball at midfield, beat a couple of guys and just crossed it in the box," Nick said. "I didn't know Nick was right there. But I have assisted on a couple of his goals before, and he has assisted on a couple of mine."

Nick converted one of the few scoring chances Ward Melville (9-5-1) managed against a stout North Babylon (9-5-1) defense led by Kelichi Akujobi and Matt Muller.

"I was expecting the ball," Nick said. "I just one-timed it."

Ward Melville coach Jon Stecker called the game-winner "a great through ball and a great finish. That was a real battle and it could have gone either way. I knew if we got a goal in the last 10 minutes, we would hold on to the lead."

That's because the Patriots had a hot goalkeeper in Peter Jespersen. "He really controlled the box and made the saves that kept us in the game early," Stecker said.

In the 11th minute of the first half, Jespersen faced a serious test when Akujobi, who displayed a strong foot all afternoon, boomed a 35-yard free kick from the middle of the field that seemed headed for the back of the net. But Jespersen leaped high and at the last second, reached out with his right hand to deflect the shot over the crossbar.

"I was impressed with him," Jespersen said of Akujobi. "I didn't expect a shot like that from there. But I knew my positioning and I got there. I'm the last man. You do anything you can to keep the ball out."

Jespersen rescued Ward Melville again in the final 10 seconds when Akujobi joined the rush and delivered a pass to Tyler Rodriguez in front. Rodriguez's rolling shot nearly tied the game.

"It was going inside the far post and I was able to tip it away," Jespersen said.


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