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SportsHigh SchoolBoys Soccer

Jose Benitez's goal enables Wyandanch to topple Mattituck and reach final

Wyandanch has earned its shot at the school's first Suffolk title in boys soccer.

With little-used sophomore Jose Benitez scoring the winner with 22 minutes left, the No. 3 Warriors defeated No. 2 Mattituck, 1-0, Thursday in a Suffolk Class B semifinal. That's Mattituck, as in the winner of five straight Suffolk Class B championships.

Now Wyandanch, the program that last made the playoffs in 2009, has a chance to hoist the trophy.

"It was a hard-fought game," Wyandanch coach Thomas Williams said. "Mattituck is a great program."

Benitez, who played eight minutes and narrowly missed a goal in the first half, scored off a rebound. "Right place, right time," Williams said. "When his number was called, he was ready to go."

The same could be said for goalie Jose Reyes, who made six saves, including three on one-on-one opportunities after Wyandanch (8-7-1) switched to a defensive formation with the lead.

Nestor Meija also contributed to the victory. Williams charged Meija with shutting down Axel Rodriguez-Canel, who came in with 14 goals and four assists, and the midfielder obliged.

Mattituck's last chance came on a direct kick with 40 seconds left, but the Warriors cleared it into their offensive zone and killed the clock.

"It was alarming," Williams said, "but we stepped up and got the ball out of the zone."

Wyandanch enters Saturday's championship against either No. 1 Southampton or No. 4 Center Moriches on a roll. The Warriors are 6-1-1 in their last eight matches after a 2-6 start that included losses to Amityville (Class A), Kings Park (AA) and Lindenhurst (AA).

"I wanted to see where the puzzle pieces kind of fit," Williams said. "Some of the athletes weren't playing the positions they're playing now. We started to learn a little more about one another."

With a championship on the line, they will have a chance to learn even more.

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