ORANGEBURG – Pearl River has a well-deserved reputation of being one of the most disciplined teams defensively in all of Section 1.
However, in the team’s Class A semifinal game against third-seeded Byram Hills, the second-seeded Pirates uncharacteristically gave up some prime scoring chances.
Senior goalkeeper Lauren Gallagher, however, was more than up to the task.
The Georgetown commit came up with several key saves, cut off several entries into the box and kept a clean sheet in the team’s 2-0 win at the Orangetown Soccer Field Complex on Thursday.
“It’s definitely good to be going back to the finals,” Gallagher said. “The biggest thing for us was communicating amongst the defense, working together to make sure that if one person got beat, there was someone behind her.”
The Pirates, who at times struggled to score during the regular season, got an early goal from Lauren Zimnoch to take a quick lead, and got an insurance goal from Caitlin Tyer in the 73rd minute.
“We came into this game with a lot of focus and we were determined to win,” Tyer said. “The first half brought a lot of confidence, and scoring with such a short amount of time left, it made the game a lot easier.”
Byram Hills, led by Jessica Kennett, had several high-quality chances, including a volley from Kennett in the first half that hit the crossbar, but were unable to solve Gallagher.
“We did a lot of things correctly, and our biggest thing was we couldn’t finish,” Byram Hills head coach Mike Martino said. “Pearl River is an extremely physical and disciplined team with a phenomenal goalkeeper. Pearl River’s backline is steller, but Gallagher is just lights out; no matter if the ball is on the floor or in the air, she always seems to be in the right spot at all times.”
Pearl River will play top-seeded Somers, a team that hasn’t lost in two seasons, in the final at Arlington High School at noon. The two teams met in the semifinals last year, with the Tuskers coming away with a 2-1 win.
“I think we just have to go in playing together and sticking to how we play,” Gallagher said. “I expect it to be a good game.”
Player of the game: Lauren Gallagher, Pearl River. The senior goalkeeper made seven saves to preserve the shutout, and was perfect as the team’s last line of defense.
Turning point: In the fifth minute, Pearl River’s Shaelynn Guilfoyle crossed the ball to Zimnoch, who finished to open the scoring and set the tone for the Pirates in the early going of the game.
Stat line: For Pearl River, Zimnoch and Tyer had goals, while Guilfoyle and Kersten Coffey had an assist each.
Quotable: “We’re never going to be a five-goal team, but even today when defensively we struggled a little bit, we’re not going to give up much,” Pearl River head coach Tim Peabody said. “Lauren really had a chance to make some plays, which is nice because she hasn’t had to make many plays all year. She made the crucial plays that you don’t normally expect anyone to make.”