MIDDLETOWN – Shaelynn Guilfoyle is fearless.
Pearl River’s undeniable scoring threat has the chassis of a Chihuahua, but makes up for it with a pit bull approach. The senior forward kept an unexpected playoff run alive, propelling the Pirates to a 2-1 win over Goshen on Saturday in a Class A regional championship at Faller Field.
Guilfoyle netted both goals and kept the Gladiators in chase mode.
“She is probably the heart of this team,” Pearl River midfielder Cate Feerick said. “She makes everybody laugh. She motivates us on and off the field. She can also be really intense.”
Yep, there are moments where even her teammates are just a little intimidated.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better in my last season,” Guilfoyle said. “This is where I wanted to go. I’ve wanted to go to states for a long time. I want to win states. That would be awesome.”
The Pirates are heading for Cortland next and will play Section 5 champion Spencerport on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
It’s the program’s first NYSPHSAA semifinal appearance since 1999.
Guilfoyle was the headliner, but Pearl River was getting contributions from every position and was very well organized from the start. A diving save by Katherine Carstensen thwarted a breakaway chance for Goshen early on. Guilfoyle had to leave the game after getting pushed across the end line and went crashing into a pole that holds up protective netting.
She was sidelined for seven minutes.
And shortly after Guilfoyle came back on the field, she got the best kind of payback, scoring on a breakaway with 10:55 to go in the first half.
“I feel like we came together after I got pushed,” the University of Scranton commit said. “It wasn’t so much that we wanted revenge. It was more like, ‘We’re here. You can’t push us around. We’re going to win this game.’ If you want to play physical we’re going to beat you with speed and skill.”
Guilfoyle scored again with 2:07 left in the first half.
“Shaelynn has been just outstanding,” Pirates coach Tim Peabody said. “I think she figured out how badly she wanted to win this. She figured out there’s no substitute for leading by example. Sometimes being a captain is hard because not every kid is comfortable with the vocal part of the job, but Shaelynn figure out that her leadership came through effort and sacrifice and and example.”
Player of the game: Guilfoyle is on quite a run and has delivered the decisive goal in each of the last three playoff wins.
Turning point: Pearl River was playing well from the start, but the intensity was noticeably dialed up after Guilfoyle went crashing into the pole and left the game with 24 minutes to go in the first half.
Stat line: Carstensen finished with four saves and Kate McNally had the lone Pearl River assist. … Madi McGuire scored for Goshen with 5:27 to go.
Quotable: “We’re the underdog, so we’re excited.,” Feerick said of the upcoming NYSPHSAA semifinal game. “We can’t wait. We are looking to make a big move.”