NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.— Beating a team that you lost to earlier in the season feels rewarding. But defeating them in the playoffs is something unforgettable.
The ninth-seeded Indians knocked off the eighth-seeded Huguenots, 4-3, on a windy Saturday, Oct. 22, at New Rochelle High School in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
“This is what you are going to see in sectionals,” Mahopac coach Ross Fumusa said. “Nobody is going to be a walkover. We went on our motivation that they beat us earlier in the year. We knew what their strengths and weaknesses were, so we played off that. We did what we were supposed to for the most part, but we loosened up in the second half.”
From the start, the Indians were out to avenge their 1-0 home loss early in the season.
After relentlessly pressuring the New Rochelle defense following the opening whistle, Mahopac got on the board when junior Ellen Walpole headed in Samantha Colatruglio’s deflected corner kick in the 14th minute.
“It was one of our focuses coming in (controlling the ball),” Fumusa said. “To limit our touches and to constantly move the ball. To receive, move and check-in. In the first half that really worked. We wanted to try and limit the time we had the ball in the center because that’s where their strengths are.”
Mahopac continued to crowd the opponent’s goal again and cashed in during the 25th minute when freshman forward Carly Steinberg scored a goal on a rebound off senior Katie Yurish’s shot that was saved by a lunging Canapa Fay of New Rochelle.
“This is the most goals that we have scored (in a game) this season,” Fumusa said. “We had a pattern where we would score a goal, and then give up a goal. Fight back, and give up a goal. It was nice that we were able to get two quick goals. Especially in the sectionals to keep that moving (scoring more goals).”
The Indians maintained possession at either midfield or in their opponent’s territory for most of the first half, but the Huguenots pushed back after Julia Zaccheria skied a goal just over the head of Julia Mende to make it 2-1 in Mahopac’s favor with about seven minutes left to play in the first half.
The score remained the same heading into halftime but the Indians looked like a different team for the majority of the second half.
Mahopac extended its lead as junior midfielder Morgan Kirby headed in Ailis Martin’s corner kick to put the Indians in front, 3-1, in the 70th minute.
New Rochelle kept grinding for possession and worked the ball into Mahopac territory. Sabrina Salov advanced the Huguenots closer after hitting in a goal from a previous long-distance shot by a teammate as the Indians were in front, 3-2, with just five minutes left in the game.
“Each time they came back I knew that we were the better team that can come back even harder,” Yurish said.
Mahopac would not let up in its rematch. Martin earned another assist on a corner kick this time to Steinberg, who plopped in the goal with a swift kick of the left foot on the far-side of Martin’s kick with under two minutes to-go. Steinberg also had an assist.
“It’s amazing (to contribute as a freshman),” said Steinberg, who also had an assist. “I can’t even believe it. We’re the underdog so we came through without them seeing us (play). As a group, we came together and said that we have to win this game. We had our mindsets straight and just wanted it.”
Sophie Wolf tallied one more for the Huguenots in what was a very fast and physical soccer game. The Indians were able to stave off the New Rochelle offense for a few minutes more and hold on.
“There are only three or four of these girls who were with me two years ago when we went to the section finals,” Fumusa said. “So they know how it feels to win in Sectionals. For everyone here with our 11 seniors who haven’t gotten a sectional win, I am really happy for the girls to experience it.”
Goalie Julia Mende returned from a leg injury for the playoff game and performed wonderfully with over 10 saves. The confident Indians visited the top-seeded Horace Greeley Quakers in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
“The key to this win and moving on in sectionals is who has more heart,” Yurish said. “And our team has tons of heart. We always try our best and if we work well together we can beat any team.”