Five Huntington High School boys’ soccer players claimed post-season honors after a year that saw the Blue Devils compile an 8-7-1 record.
The 22-player team was led by head coach John Pagano and assistant coach Jason Suarez. After opening the season with a pair of non-league victories over Patchogue-Medford (3-0) and Northport (6-0), Huntington lost four straight league contests, dropping games to North Babylon (2-1), Newfield (1-0), Smithtown West (2-1) and Centereach (1-0). The Blue Devils went 6-3-1 the rest of the way, missing the playoffs by a single point.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Pagano said. “We had only five returning players.” Despite the four tough league losses at the start of the season, Huntington went on to compete in every game, falling just short of reaching post-season play.
Nat Amato was named to the All-Conference and All-County teams, while Mark Rafuse was selected as All-Conference and Kevin Gulizio and Matt Gelb were recognized as All-League. Aidan Forbes earned Academic All-County honors.
Amato notched six shutouts in goal for Huntington. “Nat was tremendous,” Pagano said. “He will lead us going forward next year.”
Rafuse was a stand-out on defense for the Blue Devils. “Mark is one of the top defenders in Suffolk County,” Pagano said.
Gelb started every game at midfield and performed well all over the field. “Matt was hands down one of the toughest players that Huntington soccer has produced,” Pagano said.
Gulizio’s playmaking, offense and defense from his midfield position could never be overlooked by opponents, who respected the teenager’s rugged play. The senior scored six times and assisted on six other goals.
Junior Freddy Amador also produced a nice season, tallying five goals and three assists from his midfield post.
Huntington outscored its opponents this fall by a 16-12 margin. With a majority of the starting team returning next year, the Blue Devils hope to see more success on the field.
“With a year of experience under our belts, we are hoping to make a run in League III next year,” Pagano said.