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Hunter Allen's goal gives Glenn 1-0 victory over Miller Place in Suffolk VI boys soccer

Glenn's Luke Karen, left, dribbles the ball against

Glenn's Luke Karen, left, dribbles the ball against Miller Place's Rich Krumholz during a game at John Glenn High School on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Hunter Allen and Edwin Licona took lessons from the basketball court at 6 a.m. to the soccer field less than 12 hours later.

Before his team's game against Miller Place on Thursday, Glenn coach Lou Hanner called a morning practice in a rather unconventional location. The Knights transformed the basketball courts into their own soccer facility for the morning and spent time working on the "oldest play in the book" -- the give-and-go -- with their legs.

The early-morning session paid dividends as host Glenn beat Miller Place, 1-0, in front of about 200 fans. And the play that resulted in the victory is exactly what the Knights had worked on in the morning.

With about seven minutes remaining in the first half, Allen saw Licona cutting down the left side of the field. He passed it to Licona in the corner, cut toward the middle of the field and made his way through defenders as Licona found him with a perfect ground-ball pass. The give-and-go produced the game's only goal.

"I read the ball, read the defender's stance," Allen said. "I just picked up the read and I was able to get the ball and make a good run on it."

The 6-foot, 175-pound Allen repeatedly used his size to get open. The senior clearly was the biggest player on the field but was able to keep up with the quickest ones.

"I want the ball at all times,'' he said, "and even if I'm guarded, I still try to use my body to get open because I want the ball at my feet. Also, I can use my body to cut and make good plays and use my arms to get off them."

The highly anticipated regular-season game between the preseason picks for No. 1 (Miller Place) and No. 2 (Glenn) in Suffolk League VI -- and all of Suffolk Class A -- lived up to expectations.

Glenn, currently ranked No. 16 in the state, again got the better of Miller Place, No. 10 in the state, after beating the Panthers last season to keep them out of the playoffs.

Glenn (7-0-1, 3-0-1) controlled the pace of play throughout the first half. Miller Place (4-1-1, 3-1-1) had spurts throughout the second half and put pressure on Glenn sophomore goalkeeper Chris Spalding, who had 10 saves.

The Panthers' best opportunities came off corner kicks midway through the second half. With 29 minutes remaining, Alex Moschella sent a corner in search of Douglas Minogue, who was coming toward the back post after a designed play, but Spalding punched the ball out of play. Moschella played another corner, this time from the left side of the field, but Spalding easily corralled the soft header.

"I love it," Spalding said about playing the position. "Especially making a big save. Just help my guys out because they do a lot and I have to save them sometimes, so that's just my job."

Hanner is aware of the talented player he has in Allen, whose 11 goals last season ranked No. 11 among returning Suffolk players. Still, Hanner hopes to get even more out of his captain.

"I'm hoping we can scratch a little deeper," Hanner said, "because we are going to need him to play even better moving forward because everybody is going to key on him, rightfully so, but he's got to be able to step up."

This game not only served as a test for two teams with high expectations but also demonstrated that the rivalry remains strong. There were some chippy moments down the stretch.

"This game was huge for us. It could determine first place for the end of the season," Allen said. "It's always been a big rivalry."

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