DRYDEN – Last year was about heartbreak.
The North Rockland girls soccer team will have the chance to write a different ending Sunday.
North Rockland’s Julianna Cabrera going up against a player from Bethlehem Central at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Class AA state semifinal, Nov. 15, 2014.
The Red Raiders edged surprising Bethlehem Central (Section 2) 1-0 at Tompkins Cortland Community College Saturday to advance to Sunday’s Class AA state championship game.
North Rockland will play Massapequa (Section 8), which edged Clarence (Section 6) 1-0 with a goal with 2:05 to play. Massapequa beat the Red Raiders 2-1 in last year’s final.
Bethlehem Central, which had a Cinderella playoff run after being seeded sixth in Section 2, had no late threats.
In fact, it had few chances. North Rockland goalie Jenna Braunagel made just three saves.
Her counterpart, Miranda Manziano, had nine saves and beat North Rockland players to several loose balls.
The one shot she couldn’t stop came with 4:38 left in the first half off a corner kick. Players from both teams jumped to head Taylor Aylmer’s cross but missed the ball, which landed at Amber Alfonzo’s feet.
Alfonzo didn’t miss.
“I just volleyed it,” Alfonzo said.
The Eagles’ best chance came with 17:37 left in the first half when Madison Ehring’s free kick from 30 yards out just went over the crossbar and a leaping Braunagel.
“It’s been an amazing run,” Eagles coach Tom Rogan said. “In many ways it continued today but we were overmatched a bit.”
North Rockland completely dominated the time of possession, using the whole width of the field to effectively move the ball.
“We tried to keep creating opportunities,” Aylmer said. “A lot of us have been playing together for a couple of years now. We know where each other is.”
“We need to play tomorrow like we did today and possess the ball,” North Rockland coach Vinny Apicella said. “Our players looked very, very sharp with the exception of scoring. But if we play like this, those goals will come.”
Alfonzo appeared optimistic.
“I think we want it a lot more this year. We’re not ready to lose again,” she said.