October 18, 2006

Hampton Bays In Hunt For First

In a league that has been dominated in the past by teams such as Mattituck, Center Moriches and Babylon, the Hampton Bays boys soccer team continues to show its competitors that it is a legitimate threat and, if given the opportunity, can threaten the top of the standings.

And despite losing a difficult game to first place Center Moriches (7-0-1) by a 3-1 score on Thursday night in a game held under the lights at Hampton Bays High School, the Baymen (6-2-1 in League VII) are only one win away from qualifying for the postseason after defeating Southampton 4-1 on Saturday evening.

"They're playing really well," said Hampton Bays coach John Paga. After suffering a 9-2 loss to Center Moriches earlier this season, the Baymen opted to put Pablo Anchia back in goal. Hampton Bays has gone 5-1-1 since and Anchia has played well in all seven games, often making clutch, game-saving stops at key moments.

The Baymen's excellent surge began after they earned a well-deserved 2-2 tie against Mattituck back on October 7. "That was a huge game for us because we had 14 guys dressed and they [Mattituck] had 27," Paga said. "They're [the Tuckers] always a tough team to play against and it was their homecoming. We had two scoring opportunities and we scored on both of them."

Pat Nydegger scored both goals and currently leads the team with 14.

"Pat's scoring his goals against big teams," said Paga. "He's tall and he's still the fastest player in the league. He runs right by people and every opportunity that he's getting, he's putting the ball in the net. Last season he had a lot of trouble finishing, but not this year. He could easily have 15 goals right now because he missed some breakaways earlier in the year. But now he's converting on everything."

Nydegger put an exclamation point on his scoring barrage by providing all the offense, registering a career-high four goals in Hampton Bays' 4-1 win over Southampton on Saturday.

And when Nydegger isn't scoring, Anthony Arias is. Arias is currently second on the Baymen in goal scoring with eight and he has assisted on the majority of Nydegger's goals. Hampton Bays is one of only two teams in Suffolk that features two players with at least eight goals scored. "Anthony's a super-skilled player with a hard shot and he's elusive in the opponent's defensive zone," remarked Paga.

The Baymen have also rallied behind their fallen teammate Stephen Vlahadamis, a junior right/halfback and one of the most popular players on the team that was lost for the season after suffering a severely broken leg during a game. "They're all playing for him," said Paga.

So with six starters that didn't even attend Hampton Bays last season, the Baymen continue to press on in their quest for the playoffs. One more win and goal number one will have been accomplished. "We play hard and we're continuing to improve. We've got a lot of heart."

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