Jason Cruz is a clincher. He defends, but he also has a strong shot. He comes through in the clutch, and he’s the spark Greenport’s boys soccer team needed in a 3-0 shutout of Pierson/Bridgehampton October 4.
The senior was moved to forward for five minutes to start the second half before he rocketed a shot from 30 yards out just over leaping Will Walker’s fingertips for the game-winning goal that helped the Porters to a postseason berth.
He did it again just seconds before being subbed out, this time from the 25-yard line for some added cushion, at the 22-minute mark. Cruz’s co-captain and classmate William Chapeton found the box when he got a touch up top to get the ball around Walker as he came out of the box with eight minutes remaining.
“I looked at how the other team played and saw that they left the center of the field open and decided to take some shots from long distance — see if they went in, and they did,” Cruz said, smiling. “It felt amazing, but not only for me. Credit to the assists I got from my teammates.”
It is the fourth straight game in which Cruz scored. He’s hit his mark during seven of Greenport’s (6-3 in League VII) last nine contests.
“He’s like a little brother to me. He was over my house for Christmas dinner,” head coach Sean Charters said of his best striker, who hasn’t played the position since seventh grade. “I tell him he’s the fastest guy out there — to just take a touch and shoot it — and he’s been awesome. I brought him up to varsity as a young kid, and he still asks for advice all the time, and is constantly improving.”
The team was connecting passes early on, but missed on multiple attempts to leave the teams in a stalemate heading into halftime. Cruz’s first goal gave the Porters the boost they needed.
“Our back line is solid and Jason is great,” Chapeton said. “I told my teammates we needed to win this game no matter what, and we did.”
Greenport cleared the ball each chance it got, and senior Miguel Torres had to make just three saves to keep Pierson (2-8) off the board. The win helps Greenport not only get into the playoffs but get out of the loss column. The Porters had lost their last two, and three of their last four, with Cruz scoring the lone goals in each of those defeats. He also received assists from senior midfielder Mateo Arias in two of them, who also assisted him in the win over Pierson.
“We bounced back,” Cruz said. “We’d lost two of our important defenders so we had to tweak things a bit, and we still have a lot of preparation for upcoming games, but our team has so much potential and great skill. We just have to put all the parts together now.”