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Choi’s Hat Trick Caps Thrilling Comeback

October 21, 2014

It seems there is no more dangerous position for a team to be in than up by three goals against Stony Brook in the first half.

This afternoon the boys soccer team overcame a three-goal deficit to steal a victory, the second time they’ve accomplished the feat this season. After overcoming a 1-4 deficit against Port Jefferson in a 6-5 victory on September 24th, the boys fought back from 0-3 today against Greenport for an electrifying cap to their season.

First Half

As rain poured down on Fitch Field, the boys kicked off with revenge on their minds after falling to the Porters, 1-3, a few weeks ago. Less than four minutes in, Inpyo Ma nearly gave the Bears the lead when his blast from 30 yards sailed over the keeper before ultimately finding the far post. Three minutes later it was the Porters that found the net first when a clear from near midfield bounced over the head of keeper David Choi for a deflating goal. With 27 minutes remaining in the half Greenport struck again before going up 3-0 a minute later when Choi made a great diving save only to watch a striker tuck away the rebound.

The rains began to clear near the end of the half and perhaps the sun breaking through the clouds foreshadowed a turn in the match’s momentum. With 1:30 remaining in the half David Choi (the forward, not the keeper) crossed a ball into the midfield that skimmed off of a Greenport defender directly to Ma who found the back of the net from 10 yards out, providing a psychological boost to the boys as they headed into the break.

Second Half

From the opening kick the Bears attacked the Porter defense. It felt like the tide was turning, but hope turned to belief with 30 minutes remaining when Choi scored on 10-yard strike off of a botched Greenport clear. However, the added push on offense began to open up weaknesses in the defense, leading to several dangerous opportunities for Greenport. With 25 minutes remaining the Porters had a breakaway when Choi (the keeper) came all the way out of the goal to make a sliding save. He took out the player, but the ball was left rolling toward an empty net. It would have found the net had defender Ben DiRiggiero not chased the ball down from 15 yards away to clear it away from the goal line just in time.

A minute later the Bears almost equalized when Mac Bohuny played a gorgeous cross from the right wing that Haban Weon headed off of the far post. Despite the missed opportunity, the belief of the boys was palpable. The momentum had clearly shifted. With 17 minutes left Choi (the forward) was given a free kick from 30 yards away. Given the wet conditions, Choi wisely put the ball on goal instead of trying to place a shot, knowing that an unpredictable bounce could level the score. Sure enough, he played a low line drive into the box that skipped off of a patch of mud and into the side netting for the equalizer.

Despite surrendering their three-goal edge, the Porters were not ready to give away the game. With 11 minutes left they engineered a fast break down the left flank, culminating in a great strike that would have found the top shelf of the goal had not Choi (the keeper) deflected the ball over the crossbar with his fingertips. It would be the Porters’ last meaningful opportunity to retake the lead. The Bears, on the other hand, continued their push. With 9 minutes left Khendrick Beausoleil played a great cross into the middle, but the shot was sent wide. With just 6 minutes left Beausoleil sent a lefty shot skipping toward the net, forcing a diving stop from the keeper. Finally, the Bears got the break they needed when the Greenport keeper stepped out of the box while holding the ball, resulting in a handball and a free kick. With 4 minutes remaining Choi (the forward) stepped up and struck a gorgeous ball into the top shelf of the net for a hat trick, providing the winning margin in a thrilling comeback. As the final horn sounded the boys swarmed each other, celebrating the final result of their season as a heavy mist swept across Fitch Field.

The defense of Aaron Jobst, Caleb Rudzitis, Choi, and Bohuny was crucial to keeping the Porters off of the board in the second half. Caleb Lindo’s hustle down the wing, though not rewarded with a goal or an assist, wreaked havoc on the Greenport defense and helped create openings for other players as the Porters were forced to key in on his speed. Great play and hustle from Jejun Kang and Jason Lee also gave a much-needed lift to the offense over the final forty minutes.

On a rainy day in muddy conditions it was far from the prettiest soccer that has ever been played on Fitch Field, but it was certainly some of the most riveting.

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