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Big Wins for Bonac in Field Hockey and Soccer

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 11:44
East Hampton's boys soccer team celebrated after a quarterfinal-round win at home on Thursday against East Islip.
Craig Mcnaughton

Two of East Hampton High’s playoff teams, field hockey and boys soccer, advanced in the county playoffs this week, the field hockey team by way of a 2-1 win at Harborfields on Wednesday and the boys soccer team as the result of a 2-1 quarterfinal-round win here Thursday over a tough East Islip squad.

Samantha James’s field hockey team is to play Rocky Point in the county’s Class B championship game at Newfield High School Saturday at 2 p.m. The teams clashed here on Oct. 19 with the game, cut short after three quarters because of darkness, winding up in a 1-1 tie. The Bonackers outplayed the Eagles in the first half, but the visitors took it to East Hampton when the third quarter began, tying the count and continuing to assault Bonac’s goal thereafter.

“This time we’ll have to play hard the whole game,” Nicole Ficeto, who assists James in coaching East Hampton’s team, said during a practice session that followed Thursday’s soccer win. 

Emma McGrory, the field hockey team’s chief scoring threat, put the Bonackers up 1-0 with about six minutes left to play in the second quarter, alertly deflecting into the Tornadoes’ cage a corner-play shot that Ally Schaefer had taken from the top of the circle. “I was playing on the goalie’s pads,” McGrory said later when asked where she’d taken the shot.

About a minute before the first half ended East Hampton scored again, again via a corner play that saw the ball go from McGrory to Melina Sarlo. 

Harborfields, which East Hampton had defeated 1-0 in the regular season, got on the scoreboard with six minutes left to play. Before Harborfields’s goal, the home team had been awarded a penalty stroke from seven yards out that Bonac’s adept freshman goalie, Caeleigh Schuster, parried with her glove.

The last time an East Hampton High field hockey team played in a county championship was in 2003, with Southampton winning 3-2. That team included Caroline McGintee, Nicole Maldonado, Emily Janis, Kalie Peters, and Brooke Tortorella. Carolina Schaefer was the coach. East Hampton had finished as the Division III champion; Southampton was second. The last county championship game East Hampton won was in 1996, with Mylan Le, Cara Hatch, Melanie Anderson, Beth Crowley, and Vanessa Wirth, among others. That ’96 county championship was the third such for East Hampton in four years.

The boys soccer team, going up against a taller, hard-charging squad, scored 30 seconds into Thursday’s quarterfinal-round game here as Eri Armijos’s no-look cross found his fellow forward, Michael Figueroa unmarked in front of the visitors’ cage. Figueroa wasted no time in kicking the ball over the line.

The visitors came right back two minutes later, attacking en masse in the goal mouth, a feeding frenzy during which Matt Walsh, a senior forward, put a shot by Bonac’s keeper, Nicholas Guerrero.

Guerrero made a beautiful diving save of a high goal-bound shot in the 28th minute, and, in the 38th, a header by Figueroa bounced off the top of East Islip’s crossbar.

The score was 1-1 at the break. 

About nine minutes into the second half, Eric Armijos gathered in a long pass from Brian Tacuri, and, with one defender glued to him, dashed toward the Redmen’s goal. The defender blocked Armijos’s first attempt, but, chasing down the spinning ball as the defender lay on the ground, Armijos blasted an acutely-angled shot high into the far left corner of the nets as the large hometown crowd erupted.

East Hampton’s defenders, Kevin Hilario, Jose Calderon, Jeremy Ortiz, David Criollo, and Jonathan Armijos among them, stayed strong throughout the remainder of the fray, repeatedly repelling East Islip attacks. Gary Gutama came oh-so-close to making it 3-1 in the 56th minute, but the visitors’ goalie, Nick Shields, punched the ball out of the upper left corner of the Redmen’s goal.

“Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. . . !” Don McGovern, East Hampton’s head coach, and everyone else on East Hampton’s bench chanted as the clock ran down to zero and East Islip players slumped onto their backs in despair.

McGovern congratulated his charges on grinding it out, though, following a joyous chant in Spanish that began “Vamos, vamos, que esta noche tenemos que ganar,” they agreed with him that they hadn’t really played the way they’re capable of. 

“In the playoffs the first one’s always the hardest,” he said. “You know you can play better.”

They may not have played their best that day, but one thing he and his teammates had shown, Armijos said, was that “we can match the physicality of these other teams.”

East Hampton is to play host to the Half Hollow Hills West-Kings Park winner in a semifinal game here Monday at 2 p.m. Hills West is the third seed, East Hampton is the second in the county’s Class A tournament. Amityville is the top seed.

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