MAMARONECK – The seedings promised a showdown between the No. 9 and No. 8 seeds.
And a showdown it was.
No. 8 Rye Neck, relying on solid defense, edged No. 9 Irvington 1-0 Saturday in a Section 1 Class C first-round playoff game.
Rye Neck, which will likely have to score more to upset No. 1 Bronxville in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, got its game-winning goal with 7:14 left in the first half.
Freshman Emilie Cohen snuck the ball in on the left side amid traffic. Her sister Alison, a senior, got the assist.
That occurred after a key stop by Rye Neck goalie Christina Shin, whose kick save to her right went just past an oncoming Bulldog.
Irvington’s Maya Pickar had seven saves and stood out in one sequence. Off one of its 12 penalty corners, Rye Neck blasted a shot high on Pickar. It caromed high off her and she batted it past several Panthers.
Irvington had many more chances than Shin’s official save count of two would indicate.
Elizabeth Segreti, with rabbit-like speed, got the ball deep into the Panthers’ defensive zone multiple times.
And Emma DeRose carried the ball through traffic and blasted long passes.
The game was quick, the ball moving fast, in part because the venue was changed from Rye Neck’s grass field, which was swamped with rain, to Mamaroneck High’s turf field.
That added speed to DeRose’s blasts but often they just missed connecting or were sometimes stopped, with Kaylee Sanabria and April Zhang providing key defense.
“Her hits were on fire this game. They were low and straight but we just couldn’t get the touch in the circle,” Bulldogs coach Danielle Weill said.
Even when the Bulldogs got the ball, they were plagued by near-misses, with shots going just wide.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Weill said, noting that had been a problem all year for her team, whose overall play far exceeded its 4-11-1 record.
Player of the game: DeRose often carried the ball herself, but on multiple occasions she came up against a brick wall in the junior Zhang.
Zhang’s defensive efforts made her player of the game.
“I was focusing on the ball. I didn’t want to over-commit. I was trying to predict where she was going,” Zhang said.
Turning point: Emilie Cohen’s goal was the game’s turning point.
Stat line: Irvington had seven penalty corners.
Quotables: “I think we played really, really well and had great passes,” said Pickar, who added of the Rye Neck score, “it shouldn’t have gone in.”
The win means Rye Neck’s five seniors will play at least one more game and that’s important to Zhang and her team.
“It could have been our seniors’ last game,” Zhang said. “We all wanted to try our hardest, especially for our seniors.”