CROSS RIVER – The highlight of a nondescript win came on the John Jay sideline after the handshakes were dispensed.
Each of the graduating players on the John Jay roster was presented a personalized teddy bear on Thursday, a Senior Day tradition. Normally, it’s a sign the end of the season is near.
This is not an ordinary fall, though.
Optimism is running higher than past seasons with the Indians enjoying a run of unexpected success. They have joined the likes of Pearl River, Rye and Byram Hills on the list of Class A playoff contenders.
All of those programs are chasing Somers, the reigning Section 1 champion.
“I think we have an exceptional group of girls,” first-year coach Dave Nuttall said. “We are beginning to jell. We have some good individuals and the important thing was bringing them all together. We need a bit of luck with the draw in the playoffs, but if that happens I think we are going to push the better teams.”
John Jay came out like an experienced team on Thursday, making quick work of a struggling Brewster team on the way to a 6-0 win.
“I think we’ve improved so much and maybe a lot of the other teams we play didn’t expect it,” senior midfielder Caroline Touzeau said. “We’re all excited going into sectionals now.”
Two league games against the Tuskers showed this group’s potential.
Somers won the first meeting by a 3-2 margin, and six days later the longtime rivals played to a scoreless tie.
“Both games were turning points,” Touzeau added.
With a week left in the regular season, the expectations are higher. The Indians know a home playoff game is within reach.
“These are the hardest-working girls I’ve ever been around,” senior defender Georgia Mraz said. “I think we know we have to be ready going into sectionals. We can’t go into any games with the mindset that a team is better than us.”
Player of the game: Touzeau had a goal and two assists.
“That was her 10th goal of the season,” Nuttall said. “She’s also created a lot of chances for us and is a danger to most teams.”
Turning point: It’s been a long season for the Bears, who have five players out with injuries on a roster that is only 17 deep. John Jay was aggressive early and built a 4-0 lead when freshman Charlotte Wilmoth scored with 8:18 to go in the opening half.
Stat line: Mraz, Hannah Dieck, Kayla Brandt and Sophia Flanagan each had a goal for the Indians. … Avery David, Erin Walsh and Katrina Wittiner each had an assist.
Quotable: “These last two games are so important for us,” Touzeau said of the Indians’ remaining contests against Ossining and Greeley. “If we don’t go in with the right attitude, it’s not going to happen for us this season.”