DRYDEN – The clock wasn’t on Somers’ side. An undefeated season was slipping away and, worse, hopes for a state title.
But then sophomore Jenna Menta did something few Tuskers had been able to do for the first 71-plus minutes of their Class A state semifinal Saturday against Jamesville-DeWitt. Menta took the ball away from the Red Rams on her side of midfield and raced down the sideline at the Tompkins Cortland Community College soccer field with one of Jamesville-DeWitt’s speeding defenders to her inside. Somewhere inside the 10-yard line, she found another gear and got a step, then ripped off a high crossing pass almost on net.
Somers’s Hannon Eberts fighting off a player from Jamesville-DeWitt, at Tompkins Cortland Community College during Class A state semifinal, Nov. 15, 2014.
And, seemingly out of nowhere, there was Hannon Eberts, flying through the air and getting her right foot on the ball and sending it home. The goal, with 8:29 left, tied the score.
And with 5:47 left, sophomore Melina Cousiz scored what proved to be the winner on a penalty kick after a Tusker had been taken down in the box.
With the 2-1 win, the Tuskers (21-0) advanced to Sunday’s championship game against Rockville Centre South Side (Section 8). The title game will be played at 12:15 p.m. at SUNY Cortland.
“We kept pounding and pounding, and eventually, the time just came and we put some goals in,” Menta said.
Eberts described her goal as a “blur.”
The previously undefeated Red Rams (21-1) had gone up 1-0 with 11:46 left in the first half when Erin Brinley’s low, 25-yard free kick sneaked through Somers goalkeeper Lizzy Hanley (three saves).
Somers dominated much of the second half but rarely penetrated the Red Rams’ defense. And when it did, goalie Madeline Frank (six saves) was there to stop it.
In fact, Frank robbed Menta, leaping high to deflect her shot over the crossbar with 16:32 left. But Somers kept pouring on the pressure before Menta poured life into the Tuskers’ season.
“A great individual effort really made that goal happen. She willed it to happen,” Tuskers coach Paul Saia said of Menta.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” he added. “They never gave up. They never panicked. They just hung tough and when the opportunity came, they capitalized.”