ARLINGTON, N.Y. – After two straight overtime thrillers in the quarterfinals and semifinals for fourth-seeded Somers, the Tuskers advanced to face off with second-seeded Pearl River in the Section 1 Class A girls soccer championship game on Nov. 3.
Battle-weary Somers fell behind in the first half and couldn’t mount a rally in a 3-0 loss at Arlington High School.
Pearl River took a 1-0 lead just 14 minutes into the game on a header off a corner that snuck by goalie Rachel Ross. Just a minute later, the same situation presented itself, but Ross made the save.
The Tuskers were on the defensive for most of the first half and had difficulty generating scoring chances.
The Pirates went up 2-0 midway through the second half and added an insurance goal less than two minutes later.
“Pearl River was a very good team who distributed the ball very well to their forwards,” Somers senior midfielder and team captain Jessica Rodriguez said. “Their defense was good and I think we struggled trying to get the ball up to our forwards.”
Pearl River kept the pressure on but Somers was able to mount some counter attacks. Their best chance came on a fast break by Ella Kittredge, but she sent it off the crossbar with 15 minutes to play.
Despite the loss, it was still a memorable campaign for the Tuskers, who finished with a 16-3-1 record and also won a league championship. Somers was eliminated in the quarterfinals last season.
“Making it to the section finals this year was the best feeling in the world,” Rodriguez said. “We put in so much work every single day to get there. We always took one game at a time no matter what and always kept each other positive throughout every single game. This season was by far the best one yet because not only did we make it to the section finals but we did it as a family and we wouldn’t have gotten there if it wasn’t for that. Our two coaches, (Paul) Saia and (Keenan) Deagan, were like mom and dad to us and always were there for us no matter what and that’s what a team should always have.”
Rodriguez added that she feels like it was just yesterday when she was a freshman and that her time with Somers varsity girls soccer has flown by.
“I’m really going to miss playing high school soccer a lot because it’s all you look forward to when you go to school in the fall,” she said. “There’s also nothing like being able to see your second family every day. The bonds that you make with one another make us inseparable and that’s the hardest part about the season ending. But what’s going to be the hardest is not seeing our two coaches, Saia and Deagan, every day. It’s very difficult to go from seeing them every single day to not seeing them at all and that’s something we are all really going to miss the most.”
Somers 2, Rye 1 (OT)
Dahlia Pepe’s free kick goal from 30 yards out with 14.8 seconds left in the fourth overtime gave Somers a thrilling 2-1 upset win over top-seeded Rye in the Section 1 Class A semifinals on Oct. 31.
Pepe buried the shot into the top left corner past a diving Garnet goalie.
“Alexis (Atkinson), Jess and I take all the set pieces,” Pepe said. “Because this free kick was from the right side and the fact that I’m a lefty, I figured I could bend it into the far left corner. It’s the type of shot I’ve practiced a million times. When the ball came off my foot, I had a good feeling. Watching the ball hit the net was both a thrill and a relief. At that moment, I knew we were headed to the finals.”
After a scoreless first half, the Tuskers took a 1-0 lead when Pepe found Megan Dineen for the goal. Rye tied the game up 10 minutes later.
“After Rye tied the game, we had to pull together to pick up the intensity of our play,” Pepe said. “It was important that everyone won their individual battles to keep the pressure up on offense.”
Ross led a standout defensive effort with 14 saves against a high-powered Garnet offense.
“Our defense was ready for anything Rye came at us with,” Pepe said. “Between Alexis Atkinson at sweeper, Rachel Ross in goal and the rest of our defense, we had what it took to hold Rye off through four overtimes.”