MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - Standing on crutches outside the goal box at the top of the arc, Nick West watched his East Hampton boys soccer teammates go through their pregame warm-up routine.
It wasn't what West had in mind, but he didn't have much of a choice. The Bonackers' "rock in the midfield," as defender Bryan Oreamuno called West, had to sit out the biggest game of the season because of an injury.
And the pain in West's left foot was too much for the Bonackers to overcome Sunday as Greece Athena won the state Class A final, 4-2.
Bonackers athletic trainer Randi Cherill said West will have his foot examined this week after an opponent stepped on it in the state semifinal. "I can barely walk on it, so running on it was just going to make it worse," West said. "It's not about one player at all. It doesn't matter if I'm injured or not. Play for your teammates."
East Hampton (18-2-2) tried, but Oreamuno noticed things weren't the same. "He's the best player I've seen in my life," he said of West, who finished with a team-best 25 goals. "I could tell guys out there didn't know where to go."
Esteban Valverde knew what to do after taking a feed from Jonathan Chunchi. Valverde sent a ball over the hand of Athena keeper Tyler Graves and into the left side of the net to tie it at 1 in the 18th minute.
But any time East Hampton got back in it, the Trojans answered. Jason Siracuse's goal in the 27th minute helped Athena regain the lead and RJ Nichol's first of two goals made it 3-1 in the 57th minute.
"We played sloppy in my eyes," Valverde said. "We did this to ourselves. If Nick was out there, we would have controlled the midfield. He's the rock."
Henry Pillco got East Hampton back to within 3-2 on a goal off a rebound of Oreamuno's direct kick in the 67th minute.
Nichol's unassisted goal less than three minutes later capped the scoring.
It left Bonackers coach Rich King pondering what would have been had his "MVP," he called West, had been out there. "Of course he's a difference-maker," King said. "With or without him, we left it on the field. We gave an effort. It just didn't work out."
When asked if he thought Athena was just the better team, King said, "I think they were the better team today. We didn't play our best soccer. We got taken on the chin and you move on."