WAPPINGERS FALLS – It was quite the peculiar sight. No, not so much the Roy C. Ketcham High School boys soccer team dominating in a 3-0 upset of John Jay, but the Indians’ attire.
Ketcham, doing away with its usual blue and red, sported orange and black home jerseys on Saturday. And it had nothing to do with Halloween.
The game was played in honor of Kelly McConologue, a Ketcham junior who is battling leukemia. She stood on the sideline, and even with a surgical mask on, cheered loudly for her schoolmates. Her bright eyes and wide smile belie the ordeal she has endured.
“Stuff like this makes me feel a lot better,” McConologue said. The 16-year-old was diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia in April. “Being here reminds me that I have a lot of support… Positivity is what gets me through this.”
She was presented a custom Indians jersey during a pregame ceremony and the team’s adopted slogan, “Play for Kelly,” was yelled intermittently from the crowd.
And the Indians did, indeed, play well for Kelly.
Eddie May had a goal and an assist, David Siriboe and Eddie Armah each scored, and Dan Ioos had an assist for Ketcham (10-5). Mike Rodriguez made four saves in the shutout.
“In the past, we’ve done pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness,” said Ioos, who first pitched the idea of a uniform switch. “Kelly is our friend so we dedicated this game to her and wore orange.”
Orange is the symbolic color for leukemia awareness. The school also has held fundraisers in support of McConologue.
“It was sad when we heard that she got diagnosed,” Siriboe said. “We knew we had to win this one for her.”
Ketcham avenged a 2-1 loss to the Patriots earlier this season and in the process, perhaps, made a statement. That they could so thoroughly handle the defending Section 1 Class AA champs says this team, entering the playoffs, must be taken seriously.
“This was special and it’s definitely rewarding,” Indians coach Scott Grimes said. “The way we played today is certainly a positive sign going forward.”
John Jay (10-3-2) dominated possession at the outset, but the Indians took control late in the first half and applied pressure. Siriboe put Ketcham on the board with 5:55 remaining in the first half. He gathered a ball that deflected off a defender toward the left post, drew the goalie toward him, and squibbed the ball into the far corner.
Armah made it 2-0, scoring from 5 yards off a feed from May with 35:09 left. May then tallied in the 73rd minute, heading in a ball off the foot of Ioos that was booted about 60 yards, on a line, off a free kick.
Ioos, Dan Veliz, Mason Sanborn, Matt Lennox, Noah Robinson and Matt Lynch anchored a defense that seldom allowed the Patriots quality scoring chances.
“This is great for our confidence going into sectionals,” May said.
McConologue said she is in remission after completing her last round of chemotherapy on Sept. 20. She is due for another round next month.
“I’m feeling better and I don’t feel as weak anymore,” she said. “The doctors told me that if it doesn’t come back within five years, I should be OK.”
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4