On paper, the soccer contest pitting defending county AA champion Hicksville against visiting Herricks on Sept. 28 seemed like a mismatch. The host Comets entered the game atop the Conference AA-2 standings. Herricks came in at 1-4 in Conference AA-4 (leagues are enrollment-based).
But, as often happens in these kind of matches, the dominating team squanders numerous scoring chances, and this could lead to the familiar scenario in which the underdog takes advantage of a scoring opportunity and comes away with the win.
It did not happen in Wednesday’s game, as the hosts eked out a 1-0 victory. The Comet defense kept the Highlander shooters from getting close to goalie Connor McPartland, who faced few challenging shots. But striker Yanni Nictas, a sometime devilish dribbler, did give the Comets anxious moments, and several of his runs could have resulted in good outcomes for the visitors.
Late in the game, Hicksville offensive standout Matt Sloan was brought down just outside the penalty area. Storm Strongin then curved his direct kick over the defensive wall and Herricks goalie Cleber Guamann managed to deflect the ball, but it slipped past him into the net. Sloan had beaten Guamann earlier in the half, but his blast deflected off the post—the latest in a number of close-in Comet shots that either sailed over the crossbar or went wide.
“It’s not about style; it’s about getting the three points and moving on,” said Hicksville coach Scott Starkie of the occasionally sloppy play.
Though it was a “crossover” game, it counted as a league match and gave the Comets the three points to put them ahead of AA-2 rival Oceanside.
“We are struggling to score this season,” Starkie said. “We have the offensive talent, but sometimes the ball does not go in.”