Even for a Hauppauge boys soccer team that has shown a flair for the dramatic throughout the Suffolk Class A playoffs, the ending of Thursday evening’s title match was nothing short of wild.
After playing a virtually even 79 minutes against Sayville, No. 5 Hauppauge pounced on a late opportunity and Jim Walker scored into an empty net with 5 seconds left in the match to break a scoreless tie against the No. 6 Golden Flashes at Diamond in the Pines in Coram. The win marks the second county title in three seasons for Hauppauge (12-3-4), which will play Jericho on Sunday at noon at Farmingdale State for the Long Island championship.
“I’m just in shock right now,” Walker said. “I couldn’t believe it happened.”
Sayville (13-6-1) won a corner kick in the final minute, but Hauppauge defended it well and the ball found Kieran Fine, who in turn played the ball to Walker in open space.
Said Walker: “Kieran passed it out to me and I saw I was one-v-one with the goalie [about 40 yards from goal], I beat him, I had a defender on my back, cut back and just put it in the net.”
“I was so happy when I saw it go in the net,” defender Tim Hug said. “All our hard work paid off and we took it home. We prepared for this since Day One and wanted to make it back here. We lost last year in the final to Amityville, so we wanted to come back and take it and make it to the LIC.”
It was the third consecutive close win for Hauppauge (12-3-4), which beat No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River, 2-1, in overtime in the first round and ended No. 1 Amityville’s 39-match unbeaten streak with a 1-0 overtime win in the semifinals.
“Those games prepared us to be calmer in close situations,” Hug said. “If we can work longer and stronger, we can always pull out on top.”
Hug helped lead a stout defensive effort that contained the Sayville attack for large stretches, as the Eagles defense has allowed only two goals in its last four matches.
Said Coach Jamie Edson: “They worked super hard today and it’s not always pretty, but we find a way to finish at the end. They don’t give up and they’re not going to quit. That’s for sure.”