TARRYTOWN – Early in the first half during Yorktown’s game at Hackley on Tuesday, the Huskers’ Rilea Fusco was pulled aside by coach Ellen Mager after taking a low-quality shot attempt on goal.
Fusco was told to take nothing but slam-dunk shots, and after that conversation, she did precisely that — tallying three goals and three assists in the team’s 11-5 win.
“I’ve had some of those issues in the past and I’ve been trying to fix that,” she said. “Hackley’s a great team and we played really well. We had a couple of turnovers, but we played well overall.”
With Yorktown claiming the top seed of the Section 1 Class B tournament and Hackley winning the top seed of the Ivy Prep League tournament, the game was a chance for both teams work on tactics and strategies before playoffs start.
“The reason we love to play a team like Yorktown is because it gives us great competition heading into the playoffs,” Hackley coach Jenny Leffler said. “Playing a team like this makes us better. We’re looking to take the next step.”
After Yorktown’s Michelle Seger and Hackley’s Catherine Meyer exchanged goals in the opening four minutes of play, the Huskers went on a 7-1 run the rest of the half to take an 8-2 lead into halftime.
Hackley won eight of the 10 draw controls that half, but were unable to solve the Yorktown defense and goalie Nikki Prestiano.
“It’s that time of year where we all know we need to step up,” Prestiano said. “I’m just focusing on where the ball is, and everyone is cutting off the angles better so I can make the save easier.”
Both offenses slowed down for most of the second half. Yorktown built up an 11-3 lead with goals from Casey Duff, Ashley Stilo and Jenna Gammer, but Hackley got goals from Sammy Mueller and Demetra Yancopolous in the final two minutes.
In addition to Fusco, Michelle Seger had three goals and an assist, Gammer had two goals and an assist and Prestiano made eight saves on 10 shots.
For Hackley, Kat Cucullo scored twice and Amanda Rosenstein had two assists.
Both teams will head into the postseason looking for redemption. Yorktown has played bridesmaid in the last two sectional finals. With only one loss on the year, the Huskers look like the favorite to finally become the bride this year.
“We’re one big family,” Prestiano said. “We have really good chemistry off the field, and that really carries over on to the field.”
For Hackley, aside from another Ivy Prep League title, the team will be looking to re-claim the NYSAIS tournament title, which they lost to Rye Country Day last season.
“We’re going into it with our heads held high and ready to face any team that comes our way,” Hackley’s Sofie Alabaster said. “We’re going into it with intensity and heart, and hoping for the best.”