EAST HAMPTON >> East Hampton goalkeeper Austin Tierney thinks the Bellringers could be one of the surprise teams in the Shoreline Conference this season. Well, if Tierney keeps making sensational saves he just might end up being right.
Tierney’s acrobatics kept Cromwell from getting an early lead and the Bellringers responded with four goals in the first half en route to a 4-2 boys’ soccer victory Tuesday afternoon at East Hampton.
Tierney finished with 12 saves as Cromwell outshot the Bellringers, 27-14.
“Give credit to their goalkeeper,” said Cromwell coach Jon Harder. “He’s just a great athlete and you’ve got to pick your spots when you’re finishing. We had a lot of chances and a lot of shots on goal.”
After senior forward Nick Costa’s high floating shot from 30 yards away on the right side found the upper far corner for a 1-0 lead, Tierney made a leaping save on a header try from sophomore Jared Grant. Panthers senior Ryan Hopley followed with a rocket towards the inside post but Tierney quickly knocked the ball away.
“Once we scored that goal I felt a lot more comfortable,” said Tierney. “I felt that first save (on Grant) was a game changer. I was coming across and I knew the guy was open. I saw him and kind of expected him to hit it in that area so I just jumped there and put my hand out and tipped it over (the crossbar).”
Tierney also got some support from his senior sweeper Josh Chasseau, who cleared away a scoring bid from Hopley in the final minute.
“When I went to kick it I thought (the ball) was going to go off the side of my foot but because Tierney tipped it, it went off my shins and happened to go right over the crossbar,” Chasseau said.
Nick Piscitelli, Connor Wall and Kyle Stiano each tallied first half goals as the Bellringers built a 4-0 lead at intermission.
Piscitelli’s header was set up by a nice crossing pass from Stiano. Wall also buried a header after a Pedro Garcia corner kick, while Stiano pushed a shot past Panthers goalie Ryan Murphy (three saves) after a nifty move and pass from Greg Pratt.
“That’s been our best half of the season by far,” said East Hampton coach Bob Boscarino. “We were playing one-twos and not much holding. We were playing wide and we were playing inside. They worked really hard and that’s all you want.
Cromwell made things interesting in the second half.
Hopley took advantage of a Tierney mishandle, pouncing on a loose ball at the goal line and tapping it into the net to make it 4-1 in the 51st minute.
Cromwell (1-1) continued to put pressure on the Bellringers and when Austin Jacinto scored from inside the 18-yard line off a Hopley corner kick in the 62nd minute, the Panthers trailed 4-2.
Grant nearly scored three minutes later but his header try caromed off the crossbar.
“We definitely played our soccer in the second half but obviously it’s very difficult to come back from four down,” said Harder. “We said let’s get one goal at a time and we did that. We stuck to the game plan. They had a lot of trouble stopping us in the last third. It was a tale of two halves.”
East Hampton improved to 2-1.
“If we can keep playing like that we’re going to upset some teams,” said Boscarino. “We lost a lot (to graduation) but last year was the same thing. We finished third and we overachieved and that’s what this team has to do.”