RYE, N.Y.— After losing three Division 1 players to graduation, two of whom scored 90 percent of the team’s goals, any team would take some time to find chemistry heading into the following season.
It didn’t take Somers girls soccer very long to click as the Tuskers came together as a unit on their way to a league championship and a superb regular season.
Somers made it all the way to the Class A section semifinals and had the lead early in the second half, but second-seeded Rye responded to hand the Tuskers a 2-1 defeat.
The Tuskers took a 1-0 lead early in the second half when Dahlia Pepe sent in a corner kick to Mensi and she headed the ball toward the goal with Danielle Cucchiarella putting a finishing touch on it.
“We had the momentum after the goal,” Mensi said. “We continued to give them high pressure and we were mainly trying to keep it out of our defensive end.”
But the Garnets didn’t take long to seize back the momentum.
Rye was granted a penalty kick after that and Molly Broderick converted to tie the game up on Friday, Oct. 27.
With eight minutes left to go, Amanda Engels gave the Garnets the lead and they would hold on for the victory.
“Rye knew that they had to score to move on in the tournament, so they came at us with really intense pressure,” Mensi said. “We had an unlucky penalty called against us in the box which resulted in a penalty kick for them that they capitalized on, and from there it was an extremely tight game, because we both knew we had to score. They had a lucky breakthrough that they scored on and by then there wasn’t much time left in the game.”
In the quarterfinals, Somers tallied three second-half goals to defeat fifth-seeded Tappan Zee 3-1 on Oct. 25.
“We were so fired up,” senior captain Amanda Brugger said. “We knew they were the five seed so they had to be good. We slowed down our momentum a little in the first half but we picked it up in the second half. This is our home field, we haven’t lost here all season.”
Cucchiarella was a magician in the win, setting up all three goals for Somers. She sent in a beautiful pass on a corner and Alex Pittman headed it in from about eight yards out to give Somers the lead.
“Dani played amazing,” Brugger said. “We’re not used to her taking the free kicks and today she took them and they were awesome. None of them were off and it was awesome to watch her do that.”
The Lady Dutchmen had the answer 7:30 later when a high shot went off goalie Lauren Jockimo’s hands and trickled into the net.
Somers wasn’t about to let the momentum shift in Tappan Zee’s favor.
Cucchiarella sent in another pass and Amanda Brugger banged it into the back of the net with 16:48 to play to give Somers the 2-1 lead.
“I said to Dani, ‘Get it back and try to cross it because no one is on me,’” Brugger explained. “I just tapped it in and I was so happy.”
“Dahlia (Pepe) passed it back and I crossed it in,” Cucchiarella added. “It was knocked around in the box and then Amanda finished it.”
Pittman scored her second goal of the night when Cucchiarella sent in a free kick with 8:52 left to put the icing on the cake.
“We were aggressive to every ball in the box and that was kind of the difference,” Cucchiarella said. “We wanted this really badly. There are a lot of seniors on the team and this was our last home game. We wanted to win.”
Dahlia Pepe and Mensi were also credited with assists in the win. Jockimo made two saves.
Despite coming up short of the finals, the Bucknell-bound Mensi and the Tuskers will always cherish this season. They finished with a 13-5-1 record.
“Our team had an incredibly memorable season,” Mensi said. “The thing I’ll remember the most is the close-knit family atmosphere that was created amongst these girls. Each one has impacted me and my senior season in ways I can’t even begin to express to them. My career at Somers went by too quickly, but the experience I’ve endured and the friendships I’ve made will be ones I’ll never forget. I’m lucky enough to have four more years of collegiate soccer ahead of me, but if I could do my high school soccer career over again, I would in a heartbeat.”