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SportsHigh SchoolBoys Soccer

Justin Cebollero's goal lifts Commack in OT

Commack teammates bury Justin Cebollero in the corner

Commack teammates bury Justin Cebollero in the corner of the pitch after he scored the winning goal in overtime on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Justin Cebollero stormed off the field toward the bench with his jersey pulled over his face. At that point, he said, he was extremely disappointed in himself.

Cebollero, the best player on Commack's soccer team, was issued a yellow card Thursday and therefore missed the final five minutes of the first half with his team trailing by a goal.

Although it was out of character and despite the fact Cebollero was eligible to return, coach David Viegas benched him for the first 10 minutes of the second half.

"It taught me a lesson,'' said Cebollero, who is usually reserved. "I know I can't be doing that. My composure was off and I really screwed up by getting down on my team. I knew I had to make up for it.''

Cebollero redeemed himself, all right. He scored the winning goal on a blast from 35 yards with 3:03 left in overtime as Commack edged host Sachem North, 2-1, in League I.

"When I saw it go in, I was like, 'Wow,' '' Cebollero said. "I didn't even know I could shoot like that.''

With a defender covering him, the senior midfielder gathered the ball from the air and tapped it back up to himself. Then he launched it just high enough into the net so that it was out of the reach of Sachem North goalie Brian Terra.

"Oh my gosh,'' said Commack goalkeeper Ryan Sinnott, who watched the play unfold from the other end of the field. "That thing was a scorcher. I don't know how that went in.''

Considering it came off Cebollero's foot, others were less surprised.

"As soon as he brought the ball down, I said to myself that was a goal,'' Commack midfielder Gene Sicoli said. "It was a typical Justin Cebollero goal.''

Sicoli tied the score at 1 by beating one defender on a breakaway 10 minutes into the second half. Nick Plate gave Sachem North (0-2-1) a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when he scored on a penalty kick.

Commack (3-0) had many chances to score inside the final two minutes of regulation and during overtime, but Terra made several impressive stops and finished with 12 saves.

When Cebollero connected to end the game, he ran toward the Commack bench with an ear-to-ear smile, then was mobbed by his teammates.

"I was angry with myself before,'' Cebollero said. "I learned my lesson and encouraged my team to keep playing, and when it was time to make something happen, I did it.''

At that point, Cebollero said, he was extremely proud of himself and his team.

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