After standing on his head to keep Sayville's boys soccer team close in its playoff match on Thursday afternoon, Christian Jones made the final stop to give the Golden Flashes a thrilling comeback victory in a game decided by penalty kicks.
Jones made the clinching save after Marcus Minutello put No. 6 Sayville ahead 7-6 in penalty kicks against No. 3 Half Hollow Hills West, after a 2-2 draw in a Suffolk Class A quarterfinal. The Golden Flashes will host No. 7 Glenn in the semifinals on Monday.
Before Jones deflected the final spot-kick off the crossbar, Sayville (13-5) needed a late offensive surge to keep its season alive. After Jonathan Bragoli scored to put Hills West ahead 2-0 in the 52nd minute, Michael Argenziano answered with a goal for Sayville three minutes later and P.J. Kloska tied the score with 17 minutes left in regulation.
“We showed that we don't back down from anyone or anything,” said Jones (10 saves), who needed to make a diving stop on a breakaway in the closing moments of the second half and then stop a second shot off a rebound. “I got a little scared seeing him come in, but my adrenaline was pumping,” Jones said of the sequence. “I had faith in myself, made the save and just kept on playing.”
After a scoreless overtime period, both teams converted their first two kicks of the shootout, before Hills West goalie Michael Lee made a diving stop on Sayville’s third, punctuating a strong game of his own.
The next Hills West penalty missed the target, but the teams converted on their next four kicks before Minutello stepped to the spot and converted the go-ahead kick.
“All the practice and all the hours we put in really helped us with our nerves,” Minutello said.
His kick reversed the script from last season, as Hills West edged Sayville in penalties in the 2018 quarterfinals.
In the early going, it looked like the Colts (12-2-3) would be headed for another win, as they went ahead with seven seconds left in the first half when Issah Khanat corraled a rebound and fired it home.
Bragoli doubled the Colts’ lead with a rocket into the top corner, but Argenziano answered back with an assist from Minutello.
“I was in the right place at the right time, it was a great ball from Marcus and then it was the back of the net and we were back in it,” Argenziano said. “It was a momentum changer. After that, we were all over them and the energy was flowing.”
Sayville began to take control of the match from that point and equalized after Kloska scored in the box off a free kick.
“I was just hunting for the ball and just trying to find a way to get by head on it and put in the net,” he said. “We’ve been down before, we’ve come back and won some pretty tough games, so we knew we were capable of it. Just because it’s a high stakes game, doesn’t mean it’s not a soccer game. We can come back from anything.”