ARMONK – Skill is more important than size.
That’s been a motto of sorts for junior Ryan Noel, who stands at just 5-foot-3 but has an undeniable presence on the soccer pitch for Byram Hills.
“That’s my attitude towards soccer,” he said. “I just try to be as technical as I can, and play as fast and simple as I can. Since I’m smaller, I know that I have to go harder into tackles, which is what I aim to do. It’s very effective.”
As he has been all season, Noel was one of the most active players for the Bobcats on Monday. He scored the third and final goal in a 3-1 win over Harrison, which gave Byram its 11th league title in 16 years under coach Matty Allen. The win finished off a 12-2-2 regular season and will likely result in a top-three seed in the Class A bracket.
In their previous meeting with the Huskies, who have had a strong season in their own right at 11-4-1, the Bobcats trailed at halftime before rallying for a 3-2 win. Ryan’s older brother David Noel scored twice in that one, but it looks like he could miss the playoffs with a knee injury.
Even without its second-leading scorer on Monday, Byram won in more convincing fashion, allowing Harrison just one shot on goal in the second half.
“This was an extremely important game for us,” Ryan Noel said. “I think our team has definitely improved since the last time that we played them. Losing my brother was obviously hard since he scored two in the last 10 minutes of the game last time, but it shows that we’re a very good squad with a lot of depth.”
Player of the game: Jack Beer, Byram Hills— Noel had the final goal to clinch it, but it was Beer who initially put the Bobcats ahead. He placed his first goal into the top right corner of the net in the 20th minute and added a second on a penalty kick in the 38th.
“It’s awesome watching him play, and it’s really fun playing with him,” Noel said of Beer. “He’s just exceptional and really easy to play with. You know he’s always going to put one in the back of the net when you need one.”
Turning point: Harrison had a few chances in the opening 10 minutes, but from there, it was all Byram. By the time freshman Spencer Weinhoff found Beer for the first goal, the Bobcats were clearly in control.
Stat line: Byram Hills (12-2-2) — Beer scored twice and Noel had one goal. Weinhoff had an assist and Matt Groll made four saves. The Bobcats took 21 shots. Harrison (11-4-1) — Gabe Ferreira scored on an assist from Kevin Aguirre in the 78th minute. Noah Bender made nine saves and the Huskies took six shots.
Quotable: “This is definitely one of the deepest years for Class A that we’ve seen,” Beer said. “I just have to say that we’re ready for the challenge. We know that if we play our best and surpass the intensity of any team that we can come out victorious.”