Even though he got thwarted on the only really good scoring opportunity of yesterday's game, West Hempstead forward Jared Sills could appreciate the artistry of the moment.
"It was a beautiful save," Sills said of Carle Place goalie Liam Lofgren's all-out diving save on Sills' blast from straight away 10 minutes into the second half of what turned out to be a 0-0 boys soccer game that matched Nassau ABC-III contenders at West Hempstead Middle School.
Sills dribbled to his right to elude a defender, got a good look from the middle of the field, struck the ball solidly in the direction he aimed, and could only shake his head in frustration as he retreated on defense. "After I made the cut I thought 'right side netting,'" Sills said. "It was a great shot and a great save. He read it like a book."
That's because Lofgren said he had come across that page before. "In another game, there was a similar play. The guy came across the top and that shot went in," said Lofgren, who made eight saves for the first-place Frogs (5-0-2). Eric Cunningham made six saves for the second-place Rams (4-1-2).
"I saw him take a step and plant and I knew that shot was coming. I saw it all the way," Lofgren said. "I knew I could get there with a dive. It stayed up the whole time, which sometimes is easier because you don't get a bad bounce. I was not letting that one get into the goal."
Moments earlier, Carle Place's high-scoring Eric Chiappone made a bid for his eighth goal as he tried to chip it past Cunningham from in close, but the save was made.
Cunningham was challenged about 10 minutes later on a header by Mike O'Connell but also stopped that one. Otherwise, both defenses dominated, pretty much by design.
"We pride ourselves on our defense," Carle Place coach Allen Foraker said. "That was our fifth shutout this year. If we defend well as a team, good things will happen. We didn't get many opportunities on offense because they packed the box."
West Hempstead coach Chris VanKovics said he wasn't playing for a scoreless tie, but acknowledged, "We are a defensive team. That's our blueprint. We try to limit the other team's chances and create our own when we can. That's a talented team and I'm happy they didn't have too many opportunities to score. A point is a point and I'm happy with that."