Consistency is one of the hallmarks of any successful athletic team. That’s been the case with the Huntington varsity boys’ soccer squad and it’s helped the Blue Devils climb back into the hunt for a post-season berth.
Huntington pulled off an upset of North Babylon on Tuesday afternoon, stunning the Bulldogs on their home field, 2-1. It was an especially sweet outcome since the Blue Devils fell at home to North Babylon three weeks ago by the same score.
The victory gives Huntington a 5-4-1 overall mark and a 3-4-1 record in Suffolk League III play. The Blue Devils need to keep winning if they want to reach the playoffs, but with more consistent play across the entire field, nothing seems beyond the realm of the possible.
Huntington led 1-0 at halftime and extended its advantage to 2-0 in the second half. North Babylon cut its deficit in half with about 12 minutes remaining, but the Blue Devils’ defense shut the door the rest of the way.
Freddy Amador and Oscar Cordova scored goals for Huntington. Kevin Gulizio added two assists. Goalkeeper Nat Amato stopped six blistering shots. North Babylon goalie Nick Huayta also made six saves.
“The game was competitive,” Gulizio said. “North Babylon is a good team that beat us last time. As of right now, we control whether or not we make playoffs, so we’re pretty confident.”
The two teams played tight defense throughout the afternoon. “We came out strong and scored two quick goals and then the rest of the game was a battle to keep the lead,” Amato said. “The team is feeling good about making playoffs with this great start to the second half of the season.”
Senior Mark Rafuse has been one of the keys to Huntington’s defense all season and head coach John Pagano and assistant coach Jason Suarez will be counting on the teenager more than ever over the next three weeks.
“We started off strong and kept our momentum,” said Rafuse about the Blue Devils’ game at North Babylon. “They started to come back strong, but we loaded the defense and held them to one goal. It’s great to see it all come together.”