FREEDOM PLAINS – C.J. Greenwood preached all week to “be the coffee, not the carrot or the egg.”
And although his John Jay High School girls soccer team found itself in some hot water in the Section 1 Class AA finals Saturday, trailing by one at halftime, it emerged with the aroma of a hot morning latte.
The top-seeded Patriots beat third-seeded North Rockland 2-1 to collect the section title. North Rockland won the Class AA title in both 2013 and 2014. John Jay was ousted in last year’s semifinals by North Rockland, and is six years removed from winning back-to-back New York State titles.
John Jay moves on to the New York State regional semifinals. The Patriots will play Monroe-Woodbury of Section 9 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Tappan Zee.
“Carrots and eggs go into boiling water and come out soft. Coffee goes into boiling water and comes out nice,” Patriots defender Rachel Martin explained. “It adapts to its environment, rises to the challenge and something good is made out of it.”
The story played out for John Jay the way a delicious cup of java would be fixed.
Erin Theiller tied the game with 35:11 left in the second half on a free kick. Juliette Vetare struck eight minutes later to bank in the deciding goal.
It was only Vetare’s third goal of the season, and it came at an opportune time.
“It’s unreal. It’s a great feeling. We lost to them last year, we come out here this year and beat them,” Theiller said. “In the beginning we knew North Rockland is really good, but once we got on the field we realized we can do this. We really settled down and went from there.”
Vetare said Theiller’s goal gave her confidence — and gave her peace of mind.
“It helped me in the end because I have panic attacks in front of the goal,” Vetare said. “Erin calmed me down, everyone calmed me down and as a whole, everyone just played so well and we forgot about North Rockland and who they are.”
Likewise, goalie Brianna Durland settled down after the half. Despite giving up the first half goal, she rebounded to make 11 saves, including one that prevented a potential North Rockland goal.
“Being down 1-0 at halftime honestly felt horrible,” Durland said. “I felt like if I communicated more and just calmed down it was going to help me. It didn’t help where there was one bouncing save and I just managed to get a hand on it, so I just wanted to do better in the second half.”
Delivering a section title meant a lot to Greenwood, who was lifted in victory by members of the John Jay boys soccer team after the game. In the week leading into the game, he sat down with his wife Maria, the Arlington volleyball coach, and discussed sectionals.
“We sat down and my wife said ‘you think your girls can get it done?’ I said ‘yeah, I think we can!’ We’re very organized defensively, we’re opportunistic obviously on offense and it’s a good mix right now,” Greenwood said.
“She said ‘then do me a favor. Get yours done and I’ll try to get mine done next week.’ It’s an unbelievable feeling to be the first one.”
John Jay (16-3-1) will move on to the regional semifinals with hopes of advancing throughout the state tournament.
“I’m looking forward to go as far as possible,” Durland said. “We made it here, why not try and go all the way?”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports