Hampton Bays preached all season that all it takes is one play. Debin Rivera did that on October 24 when he scored seven minutes into the first overtime period over top-seeded Babylon to send the No. 4 Baymen into the Suffolk County Class B final. But Hampton Bays came out on the wrong side of a big play Sunday, falling 1-0 on a sudden-death overtime header against defending state champion Center Moriches.
“In a game against a team everyone thought we were going to lose to, we took them into overtime, and at the end, they had the play,” sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Arroyo said. “We did a good job of moving the ball — when we usually we struggle with that. We just couldn’t finish today. They were in great position, and there was nothing we could do about it.”
Senior center midfielder Tajay Dallas said converting the chances is what cost them.
“It was a balanced game — both teams had great opportunities — they just capitalized on their end,” he said. “It was hard-fought. We were always considered the underdogs, so we wanted to come out and give it everything we had, push them as much as possible and stay in it as long as we could.”
Hampton Bays (7-9-1) had a roller coaster of a season, losing key starters to injuries, and dropping six of the first eight games of the season. But the ball began rolling in the second half as the Baymen worked out wins to get to the county final for the first time in 18 years.
“They just work; they grind,” head coach Scott Garofola said. “They’re willing to dive in and do whatever is asked, go as hard as they can. Most of the time it’s not glory stuff, it’s not the stuff that goes into newspapers, but it’s the kind of dirty work that makes a team successful.”
And the Baymen dove in head first October 28, battling to the ball and taking shots early.
“They played with everything they’ve got,” Dallas said of his teammates. “We left it all out on the field.”
Arroyo made four key saves, matching Center Moriches’ Curtis Copenhaver, to keep the teams in a stalemate at the end of regulation.
“I felt good. Every time I make a save I feel good, but I have to keep my head in it,” Arroyo said. “I got a little ahead of myself at points, but was trying to stay down to earth. We were scared because they were the ones that were supposed to win, and I think we kind of fell to that mentality.”
The goalkeeper said while the team had high hopes, coming together as one of the best teams in school history, through losing players and still playing good soccer, he’s excited for what the future can hold. His coach is, too, pointing to freshmen who filled in, sophomore Darwin Fernandez, and his goalkeeper.
“He made some big-time saves,” Garofola said of Arroyo. “He was quick off his line when he needed to be. His reactions were right. His reads were good. He’s going to be one of the best keepers in the county as he gets older. And we have a core coming back. We have some of our defense returning. Darwin Fernandez, one of our starting forwards, has been dynamic this year. We looked to remain confident in our skill and our ability to play. At the end of the day, it’s about putting it all together.”