Ryan Espinoza had long begged his coach to let him play forward in a soccer game, insisting he could be a prolific scorer if given the chance. Espinoza is a striker for his travel soccer team, but the Spackenkill High School squad mostly relies on him to prevent goals.
“I promised him during the season that I’d eventually give him some minutes in the field,” Spartans coach Manny Blanco said of his goalkeeper. “He took advantage.”
Did he ever. Espinoza, starting at forward, scored three goals to lead host Spackenkill over Millbrook, 6-0, on Wednesday.
Jake Kaufman had a goal and two assists, Chris Stamper added a goal and an assist, and Travis Klipp also scored for the Spartans (10-1). Anthony Primiano, filling in at goalie, made two saves.
Juan Laba had 20 saves for Millbrook (6-3-1).
Espinoza announced himself early, scoring off a pass from Kaufman 56 seconds in. He added goals in the 24th and 52nd minutes.
“We’ve seen him score in practice,” Blanco said, “but to actually see it in a game, the kids were really impressed and happy for him. He works so hard in goal so it’s nice to reward that.”
This came a day after Savannah Barefoot, goalie for the Spackenkill girls team, scored a goal.
“He’s good inside the 18 and he’s got the personality of a striker,” Blanco said of Espinoza. “Hey, if we’re ever in a pinch, now we know we have a weapon in goal.”
Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4