Sports

Pearl River Rallies to Shock Somers in Finals

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Ciara Ostrander, left, gets tangled up while battling for possession in the semifinals. Credits: Rob DiAntonio
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YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.— Top-seeded Somers enjoyed another outstanding campaign this fall but it came to an end with a stunning 2-1 loss to sixth-seeded Pearl River in the Section 1 Class A girls soccer championship game at Yorktown High School on Oct. 30.

Somers took the lead on a first-half goal by Ciara Ostrander with 4:33 left in the first half off a feed from Melina Couzis.

The Pirates scored twice after halftime, enabling them to take home the crown. They scored just minutes into the second half and took the lead on a goal by Shaelynn Guilfoyle with 16:53 to play.

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“The momentum in the second half favored Pearl River,” said Couzis, a senior. “I think their coach fired them up and they came out stronger than we did.”

Pearl River stayed on the aggressive during a steady rain. Tusker keeper Lauren Jockimo made a diving save on a direct kick with 26:20 remaining. Six minutes later Pearl River was fouled just outside the box and the shot sailed over the crossbar.

The game was delayed for 30 minutes due to lightning just minutes into the contest.

Despite the loss, it couldn’t take away from the success the Tuskers have enjoyed in recent years, which includes an undefeated state title season in 2014 and sectional crown in 2015.

“Our team has been so successful because of the chemistry we have on and off the field,” Couzis said. “We are a family and we can trust each other. That’s what makes a good team, that ability to believe that everyone is going to fight their individual battles so the team can prevail.”

While Couzis obviously enjoyed the winning, what she will miss most about playing at Somers are her teammates.

“I am going to miss playing with my friends,” Couzis said. “This was the last time I will ever play with my friends that I have had since second grade. But having the opportunity to grow as a person and soccer player with these girls is something I will cherish.”

Somers rallied in the semifinals to beat visiting John Jay-Cross River 4-2 on Oct. 28, overcoming a 2-1 halftime deficit.

The Tuskers did that in part by showing plenty of grit and determination to advance in sectional play and defeat one of their local rivals, by outscoring them 3-0 in the second half.

“The key coming back in the second half was the amount of heart we put into the game,” Couzis said. “We came out and left everything on the field and refused to lose.”

Somers showed that refuse to loss attitude when it tied it up on a long throw by Jenna Menta (1A) where Couzis headed it to Ali Kalayjian, who scored to knot the game at 2-2.

Menta’s ability to throw-in has been a weapon throughout her career with the Tuskers and it showed on that play when Somers and its coach Paul Saia needed it most.

“Jenna’s throw-in has been a weapon since sophomore year and we have really developed that connection because it’s so dangerous,” Couzis said. “The team knows this, and coach Saia emphasizes the importance on going to the ball so I think this goal was scored because of this mindset placed on the team.”

Couzis then scored to put Somers up 3-2 and it didn’t look back after that against the Indians. Menta slipped a pass to the net on a free kick and Couzis headed it in.

“I saw the trajectory of the ball and just went for it,” Couzis said. “I knew that because the way the ball was going if I got a touch the goalie had no chance.”

Ostrander (1G, 1A), Katrina Kurtz (1G), Jockimo (3 saves) and Lauren Chiriboga (2 saves) also got into box score versus John Jay.

Two days earlier, the Tuskers (16-3-1) hosted and defeated Tappan Zee in the quarterfinals 6-0, with Somers scoring all of its goals in the first half.

Couzis (5A), Kurtz (2G), Ostrander (2G), Menta (1G, 1A), Kalayjian (1G), Chiriboga (6 saves) and Jockimo (4 saves) all produced against the Rockland County-based school.

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