SOMERS, N.Y. – In one of the biggest head-scratching moments in Section 1 history, the No. 4 Mahopac and No. 2 Somers High girls soccer teams battled through 80 minutes of regulation play, two 10-minute overtimes, and two five-minute sudden-death periods in Saturday’s Section 1 Putnam-Northern Westchester large schools championship game at Somers High School—and had to settle for a scoreless tie.
The teams were named co-champs, as players from both squads seemed unsure whether to celebrate or cry. Most did both.
Players, the few Somers fans in attendance—and coaches—weren’t sure how to feel. But no one liked it.
“It’s like when they give everyone a trophy for participating,” Somers coach Kelci Hegg said.
“No one wanted a tie,” Indians coach Casey Carroll said.
“I don’t think we got the closure we deserved,” Mahopac captain Hailey Pereira said. Somers players felt the same.
Section 1 Executive Director Todd Santabarbara and Mahopac AD Steve Luciana both confirmed that the section was following the state model, which does not award a winner in the case of a tie—if there is no tournament to which that team can advance. In other words, because there is no state tournament, a winner doesn’t have to be determined. The teams are named co-champs, and everyone goes home. Not necessarily happy, but they go home.
The bizarre ending seemed almost fitting for this surprise-filled, pandemic-riddled year of 2020, where players from both teams wore face masks and the Indians were short three starters—senior standout defenders Amanda Beberman and Alyssa Chiulli, and senior captain Mia Klammer, one of the section’s most dangerous scorers—due to various injuries and COVID-19 quarantines.
Both teams had good reason for disappointment.
Somers (11-3-1) dominated throughout. The Tuskers owned the first half, and most of the second, and pelted the Indians goal with 30 shots (to Mahopac’s seven). They felt they deserved a chance to win.
And Mahopac’s defense bent, but never broke. Junior keeper Maddie McCrosson put on a clinic in net, somehow turning back an astounding 20 shots on goal (Mahopac had four), with several Tusker shots banging off posts, and one dancing tantalizingly along the top of the cross bar before rolling off the other side. The Tuskers also had 17 corners that were denied by a staunch ‘Pac defense.
The team had won its prior game in a shootout, and confidence was high. After clawing and scratching to keep Somers out of the goal for 110 minutes, the Indians felt they deserved a chance to win.
“Maddie McCrosson had the game of her life,” Carroll said. “She played amazing, that was the best game I've seen her play. She was our MVP for the game. And Maddie (DeCola) in the back really kept us in it. The fight was there. You could tell we were missing girls, and couldn't generate the things up top that were used to.
“It Is disappointing to end with a tie,” Carroll added. “But I can't take anything from Somers, they played an awesome game. To be co-champs… at least we can say we got something. It was a little tough to end with that tie. You want a champion. And for the girls who could not play, my heart breaks for them. We would not have gotten here without them. It's so hard for them do not play, and they are as much a part of the team as anyone.”
Mahopac had a few opportunities to create a score on pushes forward, none better than in the final five-minute overtime, when Piper Klammer broke free in front of the net in open space with a ball almost within her reach. But as she turned to strike the ball, her legs seemed to give out and she lost balance.
“With starters out, pulling up JV players, going to overtime, and then overtime again, I’m mind-blown that they’re able to walk back on the field,” Carroll said of her exhausted players, who went the same length—including a shootout—in the team’s semifinal win over top-seeded Yorktown. “I know Somers dominated a good portion of that game, but I have to give credit to my defense—they kept us in it.”
Mahopac (8-3-2) eliminated No. 1 Yorktown, 2-1 (4-2 in penalty kicks) in the semifinal the prior Thursday at Yorktown High School.
Pereira scored Mahopac’s regulation goal to tie the game at 1-1, and hit the clinching PK, kicking fifth for Mahopac. Julia McGrinder, Juliana Mangione and Keyla Tenenpaguay also hit their PKs to help Mahopac advance. McCrosson had another huge game, with 16 saves, and a key save in the PK round.
“That was a hard game against an undefeated team,” Carroll said. “I’m still in awe of the hard work the girls put in, and the injuries they play through, but never give up. It seemed like endless overtime periods to pull it out in PKs.”