MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — As Rolman Guardado searched for answers moments after Amityville’s season ended in the state Class A boys soccer semifinals, he found one in his hand.
Last year, after the Warriors won the program’s first championship, each player received a medal. Guardado’s still hangs prominently in his room.
This year, Guardado held tears back in his eyes and a bottle of chocolate milk in his right hand.
“This year we get chocolate milk,” the sophomore said, laughing at the comparison. “It’s not the same.”
Instead of dumping a water cooler on coach Mike Abbondondolo, nearly every Warrior fell to the turf after Somers’ Jack Maher scored three minutes into overtime for a 1-0 win Saturday at Middletown’s Faller Field. Maher ripped a shot from 25 yards and into the net’s top-left corner. In less than a second, Amityville’s season was over.
“I don’t know what you should do after feeling this way,” said goalkeeper Timothy Hermann, who progressed tremendously this year and made eight saves on Saturday. “There’s not much that you can really do.”
Abbondondolo has an idea: Don’t forget this feeling.
His Warriors began their title defense with just two wins in six games, but clicked and went 13-0-1 to enter the state semifinals at 15-4-1. In the 10 games preceding their trip upstate, they had allowed just one goal.
So when Maher perfectly tucked his shot inside the far post, Abbondondolo could only stand with his hands on his head in disbelief. He did not move for 20 seconds as he watched Somers (14-2-1) mob Maher at midfield.
“I just wanted them to watch the other team celebrate and take that as fuel into the offseason, whether we’re lifting or playing, and just take it as motivation,” he said.
For Amityville, the heartbreak is rooted in the fact that this year’s seniors will not participate in offseason workouts with the goal of leading the team to a state title. Hermann, Kevin Medrano and Kevin Rivera each played integral roles on this team, but they are the only graduating starters.
And that is the silver lining.
“That’s exciting moving forward,” Abbondondolo said.
As the reigning state champions, the Warriors traveled to Middletown confident they would repeat. They would have been euphoric had they done so. But this team will still go down as the first in program history to win back-to-back Suffolk and Long Island championships.
“It’s a learning experience,” Guardado said. “You can’t win all the time, so you just have to move on, forget about it and next year try harder.”
But if the Warriors do not forget how the chocolate milk tasted, that may not be a bad thing either.