Girls’ Varsity A Soccer Playoffs: Round Two

Amanda Ruzumna

Coming off of an exciting win in penalty kicks against Mamaroneck in the first round of playoffs, the girls’ Varsity A soccer team was determined to win their next game.  After an intense practice on Monday, working on finishing and defensive plays that would help them in their next game, the Raiders felt ready to compete again.  Their next game was against New Rochelle and was called for Tuesday, October 24, at the New Rochelle High School Turf.  But because of the weather, the game was postponed and called for Wednesday, October 25, at 3:00 PM at the same field.  The day before the game, the Raiders watched a video of their game against Mamaroneck, in preparation for their next game, learning from and pinpointing past mistakes and watching for skills they could improve on.

Having beaten New Rochelle 3-0 in their first league game against New Rochelle and having lost to them 3-1 in their second league game against them, the Raiders were ready to redeem themselves and come out with a win.  “We were really excited when we found out we were playing New Rochelle because we had won against them once before and knew we could do it again. In this game, we knew we had to internalize our passion to win and leave it all out on the field,” stated Nayumi Parente ’19.

The Raiders were dismissed early from school on Wednesday, at 1:04 PM, in order to get ready for their game and arrive on time to warm up.  The Raiders arrived at New Rochelle High School ready to win.  They started with a focused warm up, everyone staying quiet and getting into the mindset to play an intense game. Fans began to pile into the stands towards the start of the game, mostly from New Rochelle at first but then some Scarsdale fans, too. Both teams came out strong to start the game, competing pretty evenly in the first half, and having equal opportunities on goal.  The Raiders were pretty focused, but had trouble getting past the New Rochelle defense and had trouble scoring.  Likewise, New Rochelle put up a good fight but had trouble breaking the Raiders’ defense.  The game remained tied at 0-0 throughout the first half.  

The Raiders were determined to enter the second half even stronger and with even more heart in order to put in a goal.  From the kick off, the Raiders took control of the game, possessing the ball more than New Rochelle and having more opportunities on goal.  New Rochelle appeared to be getting tired and were not quite as strong in the second half.  But similarly to the first half, the Raiders were not able to put the ball in the net.  As the clock started to wind down towards the end of the second half, the Raiders knew the game would go into overtime.  

Entering overtime, the Raiders felt slightly more prepared than New Rochelle, having won in overtime against Mamaroneck the game before as opposed to New Rochelle who had not played in overtime during the season.  Before entering overtime, the Raiders were motivated by Senior captains Carly Rubin ’18 and Sam Mancini ’18 to play as hard as they could in order to beat their biggest rival and move on to the next round.  The motivation showed on the field as the Raiders continuously had scoring opportunities–coming from crosses, runs, and corner kicks–unlike New Rochelle who appeared more run down by the game.  Similar to the Raiders’ first game of playoffs, neither team was able to score in the first overtime of two 10 minute halves, and the game went into two more 5 minute sudden death periods.  Again, neither team was able to score.  Although the Raiders dominated possession, New Rochelle had some good opportunities in front of goal as well, almost scoring off of a couple corner kicks and further out shots.  Even though the Raiders couldn’t score, wide midfielder Parente played exceptionally well, taking players on and beating them down the wing and continuously crossing the ball, creating most of the scoring opportunities for the Raiders.  Center midfielder Allison Stafford ’19 also had a very good game, marking one of New Rochelle’s top players and captains who was a major threat for the Raiders.  Stafford was able to shut her down most of the time and prevent her from scoring.  

Because the game was still tied 0-0 after the four overtime periods, the game went into penalty kicks.  The Raiders were a little nervous because they knew that penalty kicks could be unpredictable and they also knew they should have been able to score a goal during the game.  But, the Raiders came into penalty kicks confidently after winning in them against Mamaroneck.  The five selected players to take the penalty kicks were similar to last game: Rubin going first, Stafford second, Jaeda Dean ’19 third (taking her first penalty kick for the Raiders), Olivia Bryant ’20 fourth, and Amanda Ruzumna ’19 fifth.  Unfortunately, Dean and Ruzumna’s shots were stopped by New Rochelle’s goalie.  New Rochelle missed one of their penalty kicks, being blasted over the goal wide and to the right.  It came down to the last penalty kick taker from New Rochelle; if she made her shot, New Rochelle would win the game and move on in playoffs, and if not, penalty kicks would continue and it would be either team’s game.  Sadly, New Rochelle made their shot, giving them the win and knocking the Raiders out of playoffs.  

The Raiders were devastated, especially the Seniors who knew this was their last time to play together and to beat their biggest rivals.  Many of the Raiders burst into tears, and others stood in silence, in disbelief that their season was actually over.  The Raiders were not ready for the season to end, and losing in penalty kicks was an especially hard way to lose, knowing that if they had put a goal in during the game, they wouldn’t have had to go to penalty kicks in the first place.  “Our team came out really strong and intense in the game.  We feel we deserved the win and it was a really tough loss considering we had most of the possession in the second half.  We just needed to finish,” shared Bryant.  

After the game, the team gathered in a circle with their coaches and shared their favorite memories from the season, reminiscing but also being grateful for the strong bonds they had made.  The team had gotten so close and they knew the loss wouldn’t tear them apart.  Losing to New Rochelle made the team want to beat New Rochelle even more next year, and made the girls even more excited for next season.  Bryant had been the only members of her class to make the team as a Freshman.  Being one of the team’s top players and the leading goal scorer for the Raiders, she shared her goals for the next season: “I hope for the underclassmen who just joined the team that they gained a lot of motivation to crush New Rochelle next year now that they know what it feels like to lose to them.  I am really hoping to go even further in playoffs next year and to hopefully complete my goal of scoring a hat trick in the next season,” said Bryant.  

Even though the Raiders’ season had come to an end, they left the season with an impressive record of 11-4-2 and had gotten so close as a team along their journey.  The team would miss having practices and games, and they would miss the frequent team bonding.  The girls would miss the Seniors, as well, but they were all excited for the next season and were motivated to go even further in playoffs.