The boys came into the playoffs as the League IV Champs with a 12-3-1 overall record that earned them a five seed in the grueling Suffolk County playoffs and home field advantage, which hasn’t happened in over five years. Coincidentally, this set them up with a first round playoff matchup against number twelve seed rival Hills East!
The Colts got off to a furious start with the first goal coming just 53 seconds into the game against East, put into the back of the net by Will Goldbaum. Goldbaum was on a tear and in the tenth minute scored again bringing the score to 2-0. The pressure continued and just 10 minutes later West scored again, and at this point the game seemed out of reach for East. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Towards the end of the first half, East put in two goals cutting the deficit to one, and more importantly momentum was on their side. When it rains it pours as East inconceivably scored two more goals giving them the lead and four unanswered for West. Just when all hope was lost, with 1:34 left in the second half, Hills West recieved a penalty kick after a hand ball violation in the box.
Senior Captain Leo Musacchia hit it with ease and sent the game to overtime! Minutes later, none other than freshman Jonathan Bragoli hit a shot in the bottom left corner to keep the Colt’s season alive. Bragoli was ecstatic when talking about that goal, “This game was emotional for everyone. We played as a team and won as team, so when I scored the winning goal in overtime it was celebrated as it should have, as a team.” When Goldbaum was asked how the team was able to keep their composure under these high stress conditions he said, “We have prepared for these situations throughout the whole season. Overtime is nothing new to us as we constantly keep our wits about us and play our game.”
The team’s next trial came against number thirteen seed Sachem East who upset Huntington 2-1 in a shootout. This time Hills West found their stride early and never let up the entire game. The Colts struck first as Musacchia picked up right as he left off with a goal midway through the first half that was assisted by Zach Dahl. If it wasn’t for the impressive play of Sachem East defender Sunny Gu, the scoreboard would have definitely been higher in West’s favor. The game was iced when Leo Musacchia scored again with under two minutes to play. Benny Nacht and the entire defense got a shutout and an undefeated home field record. This set the Colts up with their toughest task yet, trying to defeat number one seed Commack on the road who only lost one game all year.
For Commack, this was their chance for revenge. They remembered all too painfully when West knocked them off in the first round of the 2015 playoffs 1-0 in OT. Predictably in very cold and windy weather, the game was a defensive battle. The grit and mental stamina that was shared by both squads was captivating. At the end of regulation nothing gave, which meant the most electrifying words in Soccer: Golden Goal. The tension in the stands was palpable; both crowds watching anxiously not wanting their team’s season to end. Six minutes in, Commack had a point blank shot that sailed over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Musacchia received the ball off of a throw in and was able to put it in. Asked what it felt like to score in that fashion Leo responded, “It was great to be able to score the game winner and help us get through to the County finals.”
“Winning tight games allows us to stay calm throughout the early portion of the game knowing we have the ability to play well down the stretch…and in the end achieve our goal, which from day one was to compete for the Long Island Championship.”
The County Championship game is today at 6:30 p.m. in Islip. Make sure you are there to show your support!