Ward Melville goalkeeper Jack Jesperson saw the red card displayed with 5:52 left in regulation and thought playing up a man the rest of the way might stop Central Islip’s attacks.
However it did not.
Though they were at a disadvantage and played those last minutes of regulation and one of two 10-minute overtimes facing a stiff wind, the Musketeers kept making bids for a goal.
Jesperson ended up making 14 saves and not suffering a blemish as the Patriots and host Central Islip played to a scoreless tie in Suffolk I boys soccer. His foil, Musketeers goalkeeper Gerson Garcia Campos, made 10 saves including a pair that left him sprawled on the pitch. The contest was hard fought and a bit chippy with nine yellow cards issued.
Central Islip (3-5-3, 2-4-3) played those last minutes of regulation and one of the two 10-minute overtimes into a stiff wind, but it never stopped being aggressive.
“I was a little surprised that they kept it up and we really made them work for every shot they took,” Jesperson said. “We have great back line play and that was a big help. I wish we’d scored, but I’m proud of how our defense played.”
Ward Melville (3-5-2, 3-3-2) had the last good chance of the game when Giancarlo Serratore left a long kick infront of a streaking Brennan Foster. He cut back toward the center and got off a shot that sailed high and wide of the goal with just under three minutes left.
“The defender might have gotten a bit of my heel and that’s why it wasn’t as good a shot as I wanted to take after cutting for the better angle,” Foster said. “We didn’t win today but I think we’re getting better every time we’re on the pitch and I believe we’ll be a playoff team.”
The Musketeers’ last great chance came with about four minutes to play in the last overtime when Dylan Cedillos’ corner kick was placed perfectly in front of attacking Eric Vera. His shot was high of the goal mouth.
“It was the right place and I wanted to kick it with my left foot but I was in a bad position to do that and had to use my right,” Vera said. “It was close but unfortunately it didn’t go in.”
Said CI coach Johnny Velez, “Our guys play like part of a brotherhood and they showed they never give up in tough circumstances. They left it all on the field.”
The Patriots feel like they aren’t far off from being where they want to be. All three of their division losses were by 1-0 scores.
“If we can just put all the pieces together and start finishing, we’re going to be a very difficult matchup,” Ward Melville coach Jon Stecker said. “I think we’re better than our record and this game — which felt like a playoff atmosphere, will help us.”