Newfield knew what they were getting into – but they were prepared. On the road, deep in the playoffs, against an undefeated and aggressive offense is few teams’ dream scenario, but it became Newfield’s reality Monday afternoon and they could not have handled it better – beating top seed and host Smithtown West 2-0 in a boys soccer Suffolk Class AA semifinal.
“Our mentality was ‘they’re 17-0 but who cares?” midfielder Lorenzo Selini said. “If we do our job, we’ll win. We just played our game and got it done.”
Fourth-seeded Newfield (17-2) will face sixth-seeded Whitman in the Suffolk Class AA final 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Diamond in the Pines in Coram.
True to form, Smithtown West (17-1) was aggressive offensively – peppering the net and making Newfield goaltender Loui Chen fight through tipped balls and close calls. Chen kept his composure, his cool, was rarely – if ever – out of position, and walked away with a seven-save shutout. It was Newfield’s 12th shutout this season.
“I was ready for it,” Chen said of Smithtown West’s offensive attack. “I knew it was coming and I was aggressive right back.”
“They’re very direct, especially on their throw-ins,” Rafael Celanti, who scored the Wolverine’s insurance goal in the second half, said. “We were aware of their throw-ins, how dangerous they were and how most of their goals during the season were off throw-ins. We practiced off that, and it worked out.”
Chen was able to knock a ball away off a throw-in with 15:52 left in the game, keeping Smithtown West scoreless and making it through the match’s final big flurry unscathed.
“I had complete trust in my back four,” Chen said. “My defense played amazing and helped me out. They have my back and I have their back. That’s how it worked.”
Jay Alves gave Newfield a 1-0 lead when he knocked in a tipped ball right in front of the net with 15:42 left in the first half.
“We had Lorenzo (Selini) cross it in, deflected off one of our players, it went to me and I just tapped it in,” Alves said.
Celanti headed in a goal off a pass from Chris Vientimilla to give Newfield the 2-0 cushion with 11:26 left in the match.
“He poked it through, I got low, and put it into the bottom corner,” Celanti said.
The goal, at long last, gave Chen and the Wolverines a bit of breathing room and further opened the door to Thursday’s county final.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” Chen said. “It’s not really a safe feeling. You are winning, but it’s still early and still dangerous.”
But, like they had all day, Newfield weathered the danger and got on the bus with their season still intact.