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Oct 29, 2019 1:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Boys Soccer Loses Playoff Opener, 1-0, At Babylon

Sophomore James Salas clears the ball out of the Baymen's defensive end. DREW BUDD
Oct 29, 2019 1:39 PM

The magic that the Hampton Bays boys soccer team found at Babylon in last season’s Suffolk County Class B playoff game, where the squad won in overtime to reach the county final, could not be found this past Monday night when the same two teams met once again in the same location and under the same set of circumstances.

The Panthers scored what was the only goal of the game eight minutes in on a scramble in front of the net off a corner kick that the Baymen just couldn’t clear after multiple attempts. Instead, the ball came out to the top of the box to junior James Tourin, who sent the ball back into the box that somehow found Patrick Van Rossem, and the senior was able to get the ball past a diving Juan Cardona.

Babylon controlled most of the first half, but Hampton Bays turned in a good effort about 30 minutes into the game or so, and had its chance to score. Senior captain Milan Moraga let off a booming shot with just over 25 minutes remaining in the game that Babylon senior keeper Noah Kowalewsky was able to get an arm on and deflect aside. It was the first and really one of the only prime opportunities for the Baymen to score.

Hampton Bays head coach Scott Garofola said that letting Babylon control most of the first half was really what did his team in. Babylon played at Southampton in the Class B semifinal on Wednesday afternoon. Results of that game can be found at 27east.com and in next week’s issue of The Press.

“You will never get an easy game when you play Babylon. They play hard every play, they don’t take a play off, and I think while you prep them for that, there’s a reality to when it’s actually happening,” Garofola explained. “It took some time for us to adjust, and, unfortunately, we weren’t at max — we were close — but we weren’t at max like they were in the first half, and it showed. We gave up some opportunities, but at the same time it was really just a scramble that ended up with the goal.”

Garofola said he was confident that his team could pull off the win on Monday evening. Hampton Bays lost to Babylon once by a goal and played to a scoreless draw in another in their two regular season matchups. But the ball didn’t bounce the Baymen’s way this year like it did last year.

“We had some success here last year, so again, I had a good feeling going in,” he said. “I think that’s just being confident and optimistic, but we had a couple of opportunities here. Milan had a good shot where the goalie was able to make the save where maybe last year that one just skims by. It falls differently from year to year.”

There are eight players graduating from the team this year, but only two, Moraga and co-captain Steve Bonilla, were consistent starters this season. But when Bonilla went down with an injury and missed most of the season, the team started most of its juniors and sophomores, who are all expected to be back next season. Demitrius De Barros, Francisco Funez, Fernando Lopez, Miguel Flores, Anthony Toledo and Diego Vivar are all graduating as well. Garofola expects his team, at the very least, to return to the playoffs next season, but said Moraga and Bonilla will be missed.

“They’re just classy kids,” he said. “When they have a good day, when they have a bad day, they do things the right way, they respect the game, which I’m big on. Winning with class, losing with class, respecting the game. And they’re both more than soccer players, they’re just good human beings. They’re good soccer players, too. They get the game. They do all the little things right. They’re responsible. They make sure, as a team, our focus is in the right place. Things are getting done. You need that at least out of a couple of guys.”

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