Deep into the second overtime period of the Nassau Class A boys’ soccer quarterfinals last Friday, Hewlett junior Myles Ofri scored the deciding goal against Valley Stream North, advancing the Bulldogs to the semifinals and ending the Spartans’ season in crushing fashion.
After a corner kick and a redirection, a loose ball made its way to the left foot of Ofri deep inside North territory and he made no mistake. Ofri quickly launched a shot passed a sprawling Spartan goaltender, Pio Bonfitto, and sprinted down the sideline to celebrate with his teammates.
“I have faith in my guys, and the way they were playing,” Hewlett coach Nick Lacetera said. “I was hoping we were going to get one.”
No. 5 North (11-4-1) gave up an early goal, but picked up its play in the second half and overtime. Coach Dave Aguado said the lack of practice due to Hurricane Sandy might have impacted his team’s sluggish first half performance.
“They definitely stepped it up (in the second half),” Aguado said of his team. “I thought we were going to get them before regulation, but unfortunately we didn’t. As we let it go longer and longer anything could happen, and unfortunately it did. I thought we had the better of them for the second half and overtime.”
No. 4 Hewlett (8-4-3) got on the board first when senior Luis Campos and junior Kelvin Larios connected on a goal early in the first half. Larios made a pass to Campos at the top of the 18-yard box. Bonfitto came out of his net to play the ball, but Campos lofted a quick shot over his arms to give Hewlett a one-goal lead.
“The first half wasn’t very good and they heard about it at half time,” Aguado said of his team.
After Aguado’s halftime speech, the Spartans came out with some intensity, tilting the field of play in their favor. With the second half chances favoring North, it didn’t take long for junior Juan Rivera to knot the game at one.
Rivera gained possession of the ball at a typically non-threatening offensive position, but he didn’t seem to care. Rivera got off a laser beam of a shot from 25 yards out that beat Hewlett goalkeeper Ronie Morales to the top right corner. The Spartans tied the game at one, and despite having opportunities, were unable to take the lead in regulation.
Both coaches said they did not want the game to be decided on penalty kicks, especially Lacetera, who was confident in his team’s chances during overtime. “I thought we dominated offensively,” he said. “We definitely had a lot more chances than they did.” Hewlett’s season ended the next day at the hands of No. 8 South Side, 3-0, in the semifinals.
For North, the loss in the quarterfinals was tough to take.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Aguado said of the loss. “I wish we could’ve kept going.”