Munoz, Hicksville capture NYS 'AA' boys soccer title
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- Lucas Munoz celebrated his 17th birthday Saturday night, and Sunday, he got the best gift of his life.
The Hicksville senior forward scored the winning goal in the Class AA boys soccer state championship, sending the Comets to a 1-0 victory over Webster Schroeder at Middletown High School.
It's Hicksville's first state championship since 1979.
"This is the biggest game of my life," said Munoz, who sprained his ankle on Saturday in the semifinal victory before resting up and having a team dinner on his birthday night.
Then, there was Sunday. "That ball came to me and it was just a present," he said of his winning blast, which came with 13:14 left in the game. "The ball was bouncing around in the box and the defense couldn't get it out. [Teammate] Kyle Poetzsch and a defender were going at it. The ball just came to me and I put it away. Now it's time to celebrate."
The best scoring chance for Webster Schroeder (20-2-1) came with 3:13 left in the first half off a free kick. But Brian McPartland, who made four saves for Hicksville (18-1-2), leaped and punched the ball over the goal.
"We set up the wall to cover the near post so in my head I thought he was going far post," McPartland said of Webster Schroeder's Anthony Rozzano. "He tried to hit a shot far post earlier in the game. I knew where he was going and made the save."
The defense of Marcos Bonilla, Tom Geneva, Ian Gallagher and Kyle Brennan was excellent again for Hicksville, which had five shutouts in six postseason games.
Brennan was responsible for marking Rozzano, the Warriors' top scorer with 29 goals, including 11 in six postseason games.
"He's a great player," Brennan said. "I just stuck with him all game and didn't let him breathe."
While taking away one player on many teams results in no offense, it doesn't work that way when defending the Comets. They received offense from several different sources throughout the season. They had a strong defense, plus McPartland, a three-year starter as a junior, in goal and a lot of height to make it very difficult for opponents.
"That back four is a solid wall," Hicksville coach Scott Starkey said. "Even when we're not playing well they keep you in the game. We weren't playing well in the first half. They kept us in it and allowed us to score later in the game."
Added Brennan: "There have been some ups and downs, but in the end here we are.
"We are champs."