EASTCHESTER, N.Y.— No. 10-seeded Lakeland traveled to No. 7 Eastchester on Oct. 20 in the opening round of the Section 1 Class A boys soccer tournament and won in the 103rd minute in double overtime when Hornet senior captain Kyle McHale scored on a free kick to give the visitors a 1-0 victory.
“I was moving forward toward the goal and I played a pass to my teammate Carlos Del Monte and then cut in between two players to draw the foul,” McHale said. “It felt great to score the goal, especially doing it for my teammates. I think one thing that sets Lakeland apart from other teams is the passion we bring to the game and our effort in overtime really proved the amount of passion we have for the program.”
Lakeland coach Tim Hourahan, whose squad has had to battle through a season missing key players due to injury, couldn’t have been prouder of his team’s effort.
“The kids just continue to believe,” Hourahan said. “It doesn’t matter who’s on field and who’s injured. They just have a desire to win the day.”
Ryan Mathis played great in goal for the Hornets, making eight saves.
“My teammates were always supporting each other and encouraging each other to keep working hard no matter how tired we were,” McHale said. “I think a team with so many passionate kids is unstoppable and I hope we can continue bringing the passion and hard work to the next game.”
Lakeland outscored No. 23 Lincoln 4-0 in the second half of the outbracket round on Oct. 19, en route to defeating the Lancers 6-0.
“We were very focused on the task at hand which was to move to the next round of the sectional tournament,” McHale said. “We were able to move the ball very well up the field and hold possession which led to many chances in front of the goal and we were able to finish at a high rate.”
The Hornets were led to the win by Ryan Casey (2G, 1A), McHale (1G, 2A), Del Monte (1G), Nick Aryee (1G), Sean Bussell (1G), Gabe Nieves (1A), Gerardo Hernandez (1A), Santiago Estrada (1A), Mathis (3 saves) and Jose Andrino (1 save).
“The end of the regular season was something that made everyone on the team more aware that now entering sectionals, every game is crucial and determines whether we get to have another practice and game,” McHale said. “I think the idea of knowing that our season could be cut short at any moment helped motivate the team to stay focused and as a result we were able to hold possession and move the ball up the field into scoring territory very often.”