September 27, 2006
Bonacker Boys Off to Great Start
When you defeat a team as decorated as the Mattituck boys' varsity soccer team, a team that is only two years removed from parading a state title down the town's beloved Love Lane, it says a lot about your own team.
So it doesn't come as any surprise to Jim Stuart, head coach of East Hampton, that his team seems to have been given a healthy dose of confidence at the start of the 2006 season. The Bonackers (4-0, 3-0 in League V) opened their non-league schedule back on September 12 with a semi-historic 1-0 win over North Fork juggernaut Mattituck thanks to a solo goal off the foot of Ernesto Valverde, who broke in uncontested on a breakaway with 15 minutes remaining in regulation before delivering a laser beam of a shot past Tuckers goalkeeper K.C. Cutler. Alejandro Bolanos stopped a game-high 11 shots to record the shutout for East Hampton.
"In our lifetime [of the program], I think that you can count on one hand . . . or maybe on three fingers, the amount of times we've beaten Mattituck," said Stuart. "It was nice and something that we'll remember. We played well as a team and had a good defensive effort. Alejandro [Bolanos] also played very well."
Four days later, the Bonackers put an exclamation point on their League V opener with a commanding 4-2 victory over Comsewogue, a team they hadn't defeated in over three years. In that game, Valverde scored two goals while senior forward Steven Orrego and senior midfielder Josh Vargas each netted their first goals of the season. Bolanos again was a standout in goal, turning aside 10 of the 12 shots he faced.
On September 19, East Hampton rode goals from Valverde and senior co-captain Eric Lopez to a 2-0 shutout at Kings Park as a tough defense led by Carlos Barrera, Diego Guazhambo, stopper Tyler Devries-Wallace, Andy Gonzales, Kyle Lamprecht, Jonathan Sanabria and Juan Zuluaga. Bolanos denied Kings Park's offense from getting on the scoreboard in front of its home fans as he jumped in front of all 10 shots that came his way. "A lot of his saves in that game were point blank shots," Stuart said.
Then on Thursday, East Hampton, which won only four games last season, ran its league record to 3-0 with a 3-0 blanking of Huntington at East Hampton High School. Bolanos stopped 10 shots on his way to his second straight shutout and third of the season; Lopez and Vargas each scored their second goals of the year while Valverde netted his team-leading fifth of the season.
Valverde currently leads Suffolk County in goals scored with five in four games. What's even more impressive is that Valverde, a sophomore, was playing on the junior varsity last season. This year, he's scored in every game.
"Ernesto is a very good soccer player and he has great speed and a great shot with either foot," said Stuart.
The Bonackers have also seen their midfielders excel from the opening whistle of the first non-league game and their success in limiting East Hampton's opponents passing lanes has proven to be quite beneficial.
The play of midfielders such as Vargas, Valverde Alan Sanchez, John Romero, Mike Rincon, Irwin Soto, Christian Pineda, Christian Munoz, Felipe Marin, Chris Briand and Francisco Aguilar each deserve credit for helping in the Bonackers hot start.
"It's exciting just coaching a group like this," Stuart said. "The chemistry is great and they're all excellent, dedicated soccer players. I tell our kids, we don't have subs [substitution players], we just have players . . . and more players. A lot of different kids can play any number of positions and I can put anyone on the field at any time.
This year, we hope to move up to be able to play with the bigger, better schools in our league. [East Hampton] is definitely more confident this year, but they know that they're going to be tested. We're hoping that we continue rolling right along."