YORKTOWN, N.Y. – It was a bittersweet victory for No. 4 Lakeland on Friday, Nov. 20, as the Hornets defeated visiting No. 5 Putnam Valley, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the Putnam-Northern Westchester Small School regional tournament.
However, because of COVID-19 concerns, the school district canceled the rest of the season.
“Sully (Lakeland coach Shawn Sullivan) pulled us over about 20 minutes before the start of the game and broke the news to us,” said Francesca Gerbasi, Lakeland senior captain. “It was instant waterworks, especially for the seniors. To be told, regardless of your performance, your season will end, is something that’s impossible to comprehend as an athlete.”
To their credit, Lakeland (6-6) made the most of their final game, taking the lead on a goal by Gerbasi, assisted by Deanna Lage. Gerbasi took a shot from just inside the 5-yard line, which found the bottom left corner of the goal with 24:31 to go before halftime.
“All I really remember is receiving the ball from Deanna, and thinking, ‘This is it. You got to score,’” Gerbasi said. “I hit it as hard as I can, with keeping it controlled, and got it in the back of the net. To be able to hear my name announced one last time, after the feeling of an adrenaline rush that comes with every goal, meant the world.”
As it turned out, Gerbasi would get announced one more time by Lakeland’s long-time announcer, Joe Cotone, when she made it 2-0 by heading in a corner kick from Nadia Parisi, 2:21 into the second half.
An unassisted goal by Ava Pagliaro made it 3-0 with 3:15 to go in the game. Pagliaro’s shot somehow made it through the small opening between the Putnam Valley goalie and the left post.
Defensively, Sarah Pinkowsky made a save for the Hornets.
“To be able to end our season on our home turf is truly a blessing,” Gerbasi said. “This entire season is a blessing. If you asked me in March or even in July if we would have a season, my answer would’ve been no. To end my season home, and on the winning side, pretty much sums up 2020. Despite the negatives, you must focus on the few positives.
“I am so proud of my entire team,” Gerbasi added. “More this year than ever, we have gotten so close and are definitely a family. It’s a shame that our playoffs were cut short because I truly believed we would have shocked the region.”
No. 1 Yorktown (10-1-1) fell to No. 4 Mahopac, 2-1, in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Putnam-Northern Westchester Large School regional tournament on Thursday, Nov. 19.
“All of us were set on winning tonight,” said Chayce Buono, Yorktown senior captain. “We had strong build up in the midfield, and we were able to find one another up top, but the only issue was we couldn’t finish. We gave ourselves many chances tonight, but, unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize.”
Abby Passarella scored, assisted by Grace Pearce, to give Yorktown a 1-0 lead with 14 minutes left in the opening half.
Mahopac’s Hailey Pereira tied the game on a penalty kick with 31:10 remaining in regulation.
Yorktown’s Julianna Vano calmly put it in the left corner of the net to knot the penalty kicks at 1-1.
Mahopac went up 2-1, but Husker Alicia Menduni knotted the score, when she perfectly lofted the ball into the right side of the goal.
The Indians registered the last two goals in penalty kicks, to seal the victory.
Erisa Krasniqi (7 saves) played solidly in net for Yorktown.
Yorktown got off 21 shots in a 5-0 quarterfinal victory against No. 8 Carmel on Tuesday, Nov. 17, scoring all of their goals in the first half.
Vano (1G, 1A), Drita Tinaj (1G, 1A), Emily Ward (1G), Sophia Spallone (1G), Buono (1G), Cate Ward (2A), Krasniqi (first half, 1 save), and Ciara O’Brien (second half, 2 saves) did the job against the Rams.
“We knew we had to go in strong and set the tone early,” Buono said. “Our endless ball movement, and pressure, allowed us to jump to a quick lead. We had five goals from five different players, which proved how much we all wanted the win.”