Whitman Clinches Playoff Spot

SOUTH HUNTINGTON, New York, October 16

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

From Sept. 18-Oct. 10, the boys of Walt Whitman High School’s soccer team collectively outscored their League II opponents 26-2. To close out that stretch, with a 4-0 victory over Lindenhurst (0-9-2), the Wildcats (7-3-1) clinched a playoff spot for the second straight season.

Whitman Hernandez, left, has recorded 15 goals as a junior with the Wildcats this season.
Whitman Hernandez, left, has recorded 15 goals as a junior with the Wildcats this season.

“It’s always nice to clinch, especially earlier on in the season opposed to having to fight for it in the last couple of games,” Whitman’s Head Coach John DiGiacomo said. “The feeling is obviously good, but these guys have aspirations for a league title and they’re working hard towards that.”

On Tuesday though, the Wildcats’ hopes for a league title may have taken a hit. Despite clawing back to send the game into overtime, Whitman fell 5-4 to Central Islip (7-4).

“Anytime you score 4 goals, you shouldn’t lose, but we had some mental errors and that was the difference in the game,” DiGiacomo, who is in his 13th year coaching the Wildcats, said. “Central Islip is a county contender, and every time we have a game with them it’s a battle. Our boys showed some resiliency by scoring the goal to send it to overtime, but then we made a mistake early on.”

Whitman’s sophomore defender Sean Zagorski was able to score a pair of goals in the losing effort; junior goalkeeper Austin Salas recorded 4 saves. The Wildcats’ offensive star this season, Whitman Hernandez was kept off the score sheet, but still leads his team in scoring with 15, which, as of Wednesday had him tied for ninth on the Long Island leaderboard.

Hoping to bounce back, the Wildcats will travel to Connetquot (2-8-1) today for a scheduled 4 p.m. start.

“In a matchup like this, anything can happen,” DiGiacomo said. “A mistake or two and the ball is in the back of the net… But I expect us to come out and outperform our last game since right now the guys aren’t happy with the way they played [against Central Islip].”

A home playoff game, DiGiacomo added, is what the Wildcats truly crave. In order to get one, he believes the team will have to finish the season in either first or second place. With two games left after today, Whitman may have to win out in order to claim a league title.

On Oct. 20, the last home game of the regular season – Wildcats’ senior night – will start at 6 p.m. against Half Hollow Hills East (7-3-1), a fellow future playoff team. Then, on Oct. 22, the boys make the trip to Bay Shore (3-5-3) at 4 p.m. for its final League II game.

Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander
(Thursday, October 16, 2014;  A42)

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