Tyler Kirschner has had to adjust to being a marked man as the top threat for Half Hollow Hills East this season. Kirschner says it's not easy, but the statistics indicate he's acclimating well.
Kirschner scored for the fifth consecutive game and added an assist for host Half Hollow Hills East in a 2-0 win over Northport Tuesday in Suffolk League II boys soccer.
"I stay calm and can't get frustrated," Kirschner said of the extra attention he gets. "I have to move around a lot."
Kirschner, a forward / midfielder, has eight goals on the season.
"A lot of teams are man-marking him," Hills East coach Tiziano Carcone said. "He's that kind of threat. It's respect. He's up for the challenge."
So was Hills East (6-3, 4-3) in a much-needed win. After reaching the Suffolk Class AA semifinals last season, the Thunderbirds began this season with two wins, including one over Commack.
They followed that with a 1-0 loss in overtime to Northport and were just .500 in league play entering Thursday.
"This is definitely a big win," defender Jeremy Manus said. "We started off slow. It was definitely a big wake-up call."
Northport (7-2, 6-1) had chances early in the game before Kyle Birns scored off an assist from Kirschner with 15:25 left in the first half. The second goal came on a phenomenal pass from Ian Heller, who was along the sideline at the 45-yard line and played the ball perfectly into the box and Kirschner scored with nine minutes left in the first half.
"It was an amazing cross by Ian," Kirschner said. "I was just going for the run and he played a beautiful ball over the defender's head. I was there and just tapped it in."
The loss snaps a seven-game win streak for Northport, which remains in first place.
"We lost to a great team," Northport coach Don Strasser said. "They came at us. Sometimes you need that tough game to wake you up a little bit."
Zachary Gillam made seven saves in the shutout and received great play from his defense, including the linchpin Kris Ruiz.
This was the start Hills East was looking for to kick off the second half of the league schedule.
"It's a very big win," Carcone said. "That's a very good Northport team. They figured us out in the first game. We're a good team. [My players] just needed to be reminded they're a good team."