YORKTOWN HEIGHTS – How well can Molly Feighan dance?
It wasn’t a rhetorical question when broached after the Section 1 Class AA championship game on Sunday. We asked only because the Arlington soccer standout sure seemed capable of cutting a rug — or turf, as it were — and made defenders appear to have two left feet.
As the Admirals celebrated their Section 1 title, the players and their coach gathered and performed a circle dance of sorts. And minutes later, in response to the query, Feighan broke into what she described as her “signature” shuffle.
But, really, the forward had boogied all afternoon.
Feighan flashed fancy footwork, scoring a spectacular goal and dishing a slick assist to lead second-seeded Arlington High School over No. 5 Suffern, 2-0, in the final at Yorktown High School.
“This means a whole lot,” she said. “At the beginning of the year we discussed our goals and the whole team said, ‘Let’s win sectionals.’”
The Admirals, who last won the title in 2012, face Section 4 champ Elmira in a regional semifinal on Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Corning High School.
“It’s a (culmination) of all their work,” Admirals coach Kieran McIlvenny said. “This was absolutely brilliant.”
Arlington controlled possession from the outset and had a number of runs at the box, forcing Suffern to make two early saves. It seemed only a matter of time before the Admirals would break through.
About 14 minutes, to be exact.
That’s when Meggie Buttinger struck, putting Arlington on the board in the first half. Feighan maneuvered around two defenders on the left wing and sent a quick cross to the forward about 5 yards out, and Buttinger drilled a low liner behind the goalie
“Whoever scores first gets to control the game,” Buttinger said. Her team needed second-half comebacks to win the previous two rounds. “It’s much easier when you’re playing with a lead.”
Not that it ever seemed the Admirals were in danger of skipping a beat. The defense and midfield dominated, dictating the action and seldom allowed Suffern legitimate scoring chances. The Mounties almost had a breakaway in the 23rd minute, but defender Annaliese Tucci chased the ball carrier and drove her toward the left sideline before forcing a turnover.
Caroline Neville made a similar play six minutes later, using her body to deflect a shot from the left post, then coming away with the ball. Becky Gold had three saves for Arlington (17-3).
“I knew we needed to shut down everything,” Tucci said of the defense, which has been a staple of this team during its campaign. “That’s our job and we take pride in that.”
The Admirals utilized spacing and delivered long — but precise — passes to breach the box. Again. And again. Granted, Feighan didn’t seem to need much help on her goal that gave Arlington a 2-0 lead with 32:19 remaining. The junior dribbled toward the center of the field, spun and reversed pivot against a double team, then fired from 20 yards into the upper left corner. The play elicited chants of her name from the crowd.
“It was awesome,” Buttinger said. “She couldn’t have done it any better.”
So, can she dance?
“She can do the Irish jig!” McIlvenny said, laughing. “She’s a dancer on and off the field.”
And for Arlington, right now, they all have reason to get down.
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4