Rough Riders coach Stephen Roche on Tyler Botte: “That performance sums Tyler up. He puts his head in where a lot of people won’t.”

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. — He might play soccer, but Tyler Botte certainly has the heart of a hockey player.

Case in point:

In the second extratime of the Long Island Rough Riders’ wild 6-3 win over Kingston Stockade FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night, Botte was forced out of the game with a bloodied right eye.

After it was cleaned up, Botte re-entered the game and scored an insurance goal at John J. Burns Park.

“That performance sums Tyler up,” Riders head coach Stephen Roche said. “He puts his head in where a lot of people won’t. Probably will have to go to the hospital now to get stitches.

“He’s tough, he’s physical. He gets himself in the box. He’s a goal-scorer as well. ”

Indeed, he is.

The former Hofstra University player scored twice in the match, which propelled the Riders into the second round at Louisville FC Wednesday.

“I’m feeling a lot better since we got the win,” Botte said. “If we came out on the other side of this, we would feel pretty rough right now.”

While leaping for a header in the Kingston penalty area, he got caught with an elbow in his right eye.

“I didn’t realize I was bleeding at first,” he said. “I was down for a while. I felt I would milk a couple of seconds off the clock. Then when I got up, somebody must have said I was bleeding and I felt it.”

The 6-3, 170-lb. Botte went off, had the eye cleaned up and returned in time to score to give the Riders a 5-2 advantage.

The West Islip, N.Y. native downplayed his heroics.

“In different circumstances, we would have subbed out with me coming off,” he said. “But since we had had three subs tonight and we used them all. I definitely had to go back on for the team at that point. I was going to go back when it was a one-goal game, but we scored so it was a two-goal game when I went back on. It definitely wasn’t secure yet.”

The Riders found themselves staring down a 2-0 deficit early in the second half before Botte headed one home in the 55th minute.

“Our backs certainly were against the wall in a do-or-die game,” he said. “We just needed something to get us going. I think being able to get on to that first header and score that first goal definitely lifted us.”

For now, the 25-year-old Botte is content where he is, although he certainly wouldn’t mind getting an opportunity play professionally.

“Listen, if someone came calling, I would certainly listen,” he said. “Definitely have a good set up with my job right now.”

Botte, who lives in Brooklyn, is an assistant coach at Molloy College, and coaches youth teams in North Babylon, Roslyn and the Village of the Branch (Smithtown) clubs in the Long Island Junior Soccer League.

“I’m all over the place,” he said.

Something that the Riders’ foes can attest to these days.