DIX HILLS, New York, September 25
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Time after time last Thursday, one boy stood between Half Hollow Hills High School East and a game winning goal.
That boy’s name is Anthony Sblendorio; and he’s a goalkeeper for the Bay Shore High School boys’ varsity soccer team.
In last week’s League II matchup between the Thunderbirds (3-1-1) and Marauders (1-3-1), Hills East was stumped by Sblendorio through the first half, second half, and accompanying two periods of overtime as the junior accounted for 10 saves to keep the contest even in a 0-0 draw.
“We had many, many chances… We just have to finish,” Hills East’s Head Coach Tiziano Carcone said after the game. “You have to put that ball in the net and that’s what we didn’t do today.”
While the ball never found the back of the net for Hills East, it wasn’t for lack of effort; from kickoff, the Thunderbirds came out firing.
Senior Wesley Bosse, Hills East’s leading scorer on the season at that time with 3 goals, had his chances – but physical play from Bay Shore seemed to prevent the striker from generating any sort of rhythm.
“He took a beating today… As much as he’s a warrior and wants to [stay] on the field, I have to take him out and give him some time to rest,” Carcone said. “It’s a physical game… When he’d make a turn he would beat one guy [and then] another guy was there to clean it up; but they cleaned it up physically.”
Despite the physicality, Bosse was able to break through more than once on the day. Coming out of halftime, the Thunderbirds played a ball to Bosse over the Marauder defense and deep into the box. Bosse took a couple of touches and blasted a shot – but the ball sailed wide-left of the net.
More chances for the Thunderbirds came from in overtime when juniors Robbie Rathgeber and Spencer Manus both had the ball fall to them on offense a few yards outside of the box. Their shots, however, either never made it past Bay Shore’s defense or went sailing over the goalposts.
On defense, Thunderbirds’ junior goalkeeper Justin Katz kept the Marauders from stealing the game in overtime with 7 saves.
“You can’t blame anyone but yourself,” Carcone said. “We had too much space from the back to the front, we have to close that up… We [need to] play as a team.”
To play as a team, Carcone said, he needs the boys to trust each other more. In doing so, he said, the space will close itself and, in turn, allow the Thunderbirds to move forward together and attack as a team.
“There’s some work to do,” he said, “but it’s the beginning of the season; we’ll be fine.”
Next up for Hills East was a date with the Tigers of Northport (3-1-1) on Saturday, which saw the Thunderbirds come out on top 4-1. Hills East was led by two goals apiece from junior Taylor Kaczynski and senior David August.
On Wednesday, the Thunderbirds traveled to Smithtown East (4-1), but fell in the game 3-2. Kaczynski and Andrew Kunoff both scored in the contest.
Hills East next take the field on Monday as Walt Whitman (2-2) comes to town for a 4 p.m. kickoff.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills (Thursday, September 25, 2014; A25)