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Port Washington loses state soccer semifinal squeaker

Ross Showalter scored a goal in the 69th minute for Clarence in the Erie County school's 1-0 win over Port Washington in a Class AA state boys soccer semifinal.

Port Washington's Savvas Christoforou, center, is tripped up

Port Washington's Savvas Christoforou, center, is tripped up by Clarence's Clayton Bowman during a Class AA semifinal at the NYSPHSAA Boys Soccer Championships in Middletown, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.  Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- Port Washington’s magical postseason run came to an end by the slimmest of margins Saturday afternoon.

Ross Showalter scored a goal in the 69th minute for Clarence in the Erie County school’s 1-0 win over the Vikings in a Class AA state boys soccer semifinal at Middletown High School. Showalter headed in a cross that was judged to have just barely crossed the goal line.

The loss ends an improbable run for Port Washington, the No. 8 seed in the nine-team Nassau playoffs. The Vikings earned their first trip upstate by upsetting the 1, 3 and 5 seeds in the county and a strong Whitman team in the Long Island Championship.

“This is a group that really had a great, great run the last four weeks,” coach Don Fish said. “I’m proud of them. It’s just too bad it had to end today.”

Port Washington (12-7) looked like the better team for large stretches of the game, particularly in the second half. The Vikings’ precise passing game had been one of the catalysts for their playoff success and it was on display often on Saturday.

“It was two evenly matched teams playing a very similar style,” Fish said. “I would guess they are happy with the way they played. I’m happy with the way we played.”

Savvas Christoforou played a leading role in the Vikings’ build-up play, while they also got an edge from the tireless running of Jose Lima-Sagastume. While he is listed as a forward, Lima-Sagastume was all over the field against Clarence.

Despite the possession edge, the Vikings were unable to play the decisive final ball to break the deadlock.

“We had to take advantage of our chances,” Fish said. “We had some nice opportunities and just couldn’t tally one.”

Clarence regrouped late in the second half and was able to create three of its better chances of the game from crosses from the right flank. The first was headed over the bar, while an unmarked forward headed the next chance wide from close range.

On the third attempt, Showalter headed down a cross that goalkeeper Jonathan Nadlone appeared to reach, but the assistant referee judged that the ball had crossed the line.

The loss caps a year that Port Washington spent defying the odds, exceeding expectations and bouncing back from adversity. The Vikings dropped their season opener, 4-0, to Westbury but responded by winning five of their next six games by a combined margin of 20-4.

Later in the campaign, they appeared to hit a wall after losing four of five, but answered that with a six-game winning streak capped by winning the Long Island title.


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