Reyes, Whalers end Navigators’ unbeaten streak

WEST YARMOUTH — Nantucket’s boys soccer team has ruled the Cape & Islands League for over a decade, but the Sturgis West Navigators shocked the Whalers by coming to the island and winning just over a week ago.

Not wanting to be dethroned, Nantucket took the ferry to the mainland and evened the score.

Mario Reyes scored twice in the second half to give Nantucket a 3-1 win against Sturgis West on Wednesday at Sandy Pond.

Sturgis West (8-1-1 overall, C&I) lost for the first time this season. The Whalers (8-2, 7-1 C&I) have one more league match than the Navigators left on their schedule, so if both teams win out Nantucket would claim the league crown.

“It felt good to not have to wait too long for the rematch, because I know it’s in everyone’s minds,” said Nantucket coach Rich Brannigan. “Obviously we still have work to do to win the league, but getting this done here was important.”

Nantucket possessed the ball for most of the game, using center midfielders Carter Snell and Jonathan Trescher and a sturdy defensive line to smother the West attack, which often kept just Trevor McDonald or another lone striker up front. The Whalers controlled the middle of the field with ease, passing through, over and around a Navigator defense that had to fend off eight corners and faced pressure from everywhere on the field.

Goalie Johnathan Nunes kept Sturgis West in the game with 13 saves, but he came out too far on a push down the left side of the field, and Snell played the ball to Lashawn Goldson for the goal and 1-0 lead at 21:30 in the first half.

Sturgis West also trailed 1-0 in its Oct. 3 match at Nantucket, eventually coming back for the 3-2 win. There would be no comeback this time, as Ramon Partida sent a cross in front that Reyes flicked in three minutes after halftime, then Reyes converted a Trescher pass in the 63rd minute to go up 3-0.

“The defense, they opened, so when I saw that I tried to go in and make some goals,” Reyes said. “We played as a team, we moved the ball quickly and we made opportunities.”

The Navigators finally started pressuring the Whalers late. John Andrew Barrera launched two free kicks deep enough that Nantucket defenders had to head them out of the box, and Jonathan Avis fired a shot that forced goalie Vainius Valentukevicius (four saves) to make a diving stop.

A third free kick by Barrera netted the Navigators their goal, Avis getting the ball to McDonald for a header in front in the 67th minute. Sturgis West earned its only corner of the game soon after but couldn’t get off a shot in its last big scoring opportunity.

“They didn’t want to lose again, and you could see it in their fire,” said Sturgis West coach Nick Conti. “I could see that they were bound and determined not to lose, and our kids were bound and determined to hold on.”