Rosedale goalkeeper Jo Wayne Butler was ruled ineligible, which got his team tossed from the tournament. (Photo courtesy of the LISFL)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

DIX HILLS, N.Y. — Pardon Dix Hills Soccer Club president Martin Targett if he has a difficult time trying to figure which team to root for in the Ryder-Vass Under-23 tournament Wednesday night.

Targett has a legitimate dilemma because two Dix Hills teams will be vying for the Long Island Soccer Football League title at Burns Park in Massapequa, N.Y. at 8 p.m. — the Dix Hills Hurricanes and Dix Hills Elite.

Hurricanes head coach Musaccia welcomed such a confrontation.

“I would love it, I would love it to be a Dix Hills final … to keep it in house,” he said after his team’s win. “Keep it in the town.”

Assistant coach Al Barresi chimed in, noting that both teams have played for the national championship at various youth levels.

“They’re our older team,” he said. “We always root for them, they always root for us. We’ve been at national championships together, rooting for each other.

“We’re not going to root for them on Wednesday night if they get through.”

“Each team for themselves,” Musaccia said.

Which it is certainly understandable.

During the tournament’s league season, the Elite lived up to its name, finishing atop the Suffolk County Division with a 7-1-0 mark and 21 points, four points ahead of the Hurricanes (5-1-2, 17). The Hurricanes, however, edged its rivals in its lone meeting, 3-2, on an 11th-hour penalty kick July 7.

Goalkeeper Marc DePasquale backstopped the Hurricanes in that match.

“We’re friends with all of them,” he said. “A bunch of us played high school soccer together. It’s a friendly rivalry but it’s always one we would want to win because we played them earlier in the season. It was a tight game. They would talk to us, say that we were not as good as them because we’re younger. It would be a big win if we could beat them.

“We had bragging rights in the regular season, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t beat them again.”

Both teams took different paths to reach the final in a semifinal doubleheader at Half Hollow Hills East High School Sunday.

In the first game, the Hurricanes overcame a two-goal deficit against Port Jefferson SC to tie it at 2-2 after 90 minutes before prevailing in a shootout, 5-4, at Tom Collins/Chris Pantatier 911 Memorial Stadium.

In the nightcap, Elite was awarded a 3-0 forfeit win over the Rosedale Super Eagles before the latter side used an illegal player — goalkeeper Jo Wayne Butler. Rosedale had registered a 2-0 victory before league officials Monday ruled that Butler was ineligible. He had been on the team roster earlier in the season, but was dropped. He was even reinstated illegally, league officials said.

Dix Hills will be forced to play without two players in the final — Taylor Kaczynski, who was awarded a straight red card in the semifinals, and Brian Flynn, who was assessed two yellows.

In their semifinal encounter, the Hurricanes overcame a two-goal deficit to force the penalty kicks. Port Jefferson grabbed a 2-0 lead by the 23rd minute. First, Mosiah Whyte converted a penalty kick in the ninth minute before Rafael Castro Garrido doubled the lead in the 23rd minute.

That two-goal deficit did not worry the Dix Hills contingent.

“I was concerned a little bit but coming back against them earlier this season and tying 3-3,” DePasquale said. “I knew we were going to be able to come back and get some more goals. Especially when they got the red card. I knew we were going to at least tie it.”

The complexion started to turn in the 34th minute when Port Jeff’s Akeen Morris earned a straight red card for a rough tackle at midfield.

“It put us a man up,” Blake Aronson said. “There was more space for us to move around in.”

The Hurricanes took advantage of the extra minute in the 45th minute as Ethan Homler put home a left-wing cross to slice the lead in half. The hosts equalized in the 79th minute as Ryan Carfora scored from a difficult angle on the left side of the penalty area.

“I thought the boys dug deep,” Musaccia said. “We had no subs. We had some cramping. We were playing a man down. But they found a way and a will to put the ball into the net.”

In the shootout, Dix Hills found itself trailing after the first round, but bounced back. DePasquale saved Paul Hayes’ attempt on Port Jefferson’s sixth and final try before Ryan Stevens converted the game-winner minutes later.

“We’ve always been a good team shooting PKs,” DePasquale said. “I know we’re never going to miss more than one, so if I can just get one save, I know we’re going to win the shootout. So, I am not worried if we go down one because I am confident in myself and we practice a lot of PKs. I’ve always been pretty good with them. You always want to bring it down to the wire, make everyone a little nervous.”