His direct kicks took an indirect flight path, which was fitting since the Hamptons' compass needle got pointed in a different direction Sunday. East was West and West was East.
Nick West scored two goals, both on direct kicks with the second bouncing off a defender for a golden goal in the second sudden-death overtime, as East Hampton beat South Side, 2-1, at the Dowling complex in Shirley to win the school's first boys soccer Long Island Class A title.
"He hits the ball like few high school kids do. It's like a knuckler. And look what happened," Bonackers coach Rich King said.
What happened was that West, a senior midfielder, sent a hard shot off a direct kick right on goal, where it caromed first off a Bonacker and then off a Cyclone before going into the net with 5:02 left in the second sudden-death overtime. "Relief, joy, happiness, everything. A surreal feeling," King said.
East Hampton, which had lost in the Long Island title game in 2011 and 2012, improved to 17-1-2 and advanced to Saturday's state Class A semifinal against Jamesville-DeWitt (14-6-2) at Middletown High School at 8:30 a.m. South Side finished 10-6-3 despite a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Josh Levine, who made 15 saves, including a couple of diving, one-handed stops that kept a game East Hampton dominated extremely close.
"We were all tired in overtime, so I just tried to make a challenging shot and I got lucky," West said. "It was definitely frustrating. We had a lot of good chances but [Levine] played a great game."
Levine robbed Esteban Valverde with a diving save five minutes into the second overtime and just one minute later, East Hampton keeper Nick Tulp came out of the net to make a tumbling save on Marco Tulio Clavasquin's bid for the winner.
Brandon Brower had converted a cross from Alessandro Pugliese to give South Side a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute of the second half. West answered with 7:57 remaining in regulation as one of his knuckling kicks short-hopped Levine and barely crossed the goal line to tie itat 1. "I tried to put some topspin on it and it looked like he had trouble seeing it," West said.
West then ran toward the south bleachers and acknowledged his brother, Brandon, a senior goalkeeper gunning for his third Division III national title later this month for Messiah College. Nick will play at Messiah next year.
"I've been practicing direct kicks against my brother since I was 5 years old," Nick West said. "When you practice against the best goalie in the country, you get good at it."