Garfield Gillespie of Connetquot (23) takes control of the ball...

Garfield Gillespie of Connetquot (23) takes control of the ball past Juan Yanes of Patchogue Medford during the Suffolk High School Class AA Quarterfinal round playoff game on Friday, October 29, 2021 in Bohemia. Credit: Dawn McCormick

They had taken down the giant, Brentwood, in the opening round, No. 16 seed over No. 1 seed. Now the Raiders from Patchogue-Medford looked as if they could take down No. 8 Connetquot on the road, too.

They had the lone goal with the clock ticking under 16 minutes. Then Andrew Johnson was handed a free kick, and he delivered a lightning strike for the Thunderbirds.

"That first goal, tying it up, is gi-normous," Connetquot coach John Zambriski said.

Johnson soon set up Garfield Gillespie for the go-ahead goal, and Gillespie delivered another — three Connetquot goals in a span of 4:53. The Thunderbirds won, 3-1, in a Suffolk Class AA quarterfinal on Friday.

Connetquot will play at fifth-seeded Huntington in a semifinal on Monday at 2 p.m.

So what are the chances of the Thunderbirds claiming the title?

"I think they’re great," said Johnson, a center midfielder. "I think we’re a great team. I think we can go all the way, honestly. I think we’re the most underrated team."

It’s a team that’s now 11-5-2 after not even making the playoffs in the spring.

"The boys are growing up," Zambriski said. "They’re maturing, their play on the field and their preparation off the field."

Johnson’s hard free kick from a sharp right angle deflected in off the hands of goalkeeper Logan Guzik, making it 1-1 with 15:28 left. The Thunderbirds actually were frustrated before that, even admittedly arguing amongst themselves. The goal was a cure.

"And then all of a sudden," Johnson said, "we all became a team again and started playing with each other."

Johnson followed with a cross from the right side to Gillespie.

"I was like, ‘I have to put this in the back of the net,’ " the striker said.

He did.

Gillespie did it again off an assist from Aidan Mallon — 3-1, with 10:35 remaining.

"They outplayed us," Patchogue-Medford coach Tim Trava said. "Give them a ton of credit."

Marco Muy beat Tyler Moore to make it 1-0 Raiders just 43 seconds in. But they hit the crossbar three times in the first half and couldn’t extend the lead.

At least Patchogue-Medford (7-8-3) will always have that Brentwood game.

"I know," Trava said, "but it’s tough to lose the next one. But we’re young. We have 10 sophomores. We’ll be back. It’s just the beginning, hopefully."

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