ORANGEBURG – Until the very end of regulation time, it looked like Pearl River would be the latest team to have been taken to overtime by Eastchester.
Struggling to break through 15th-seeded Eastchester’s defense in Friday’s Class A semifinal at World Class FC, there was real danger that the sixth-seeded Pirates could be taken to penalty kicks.
At that point, an upset was a real possibility.
“We knew coming into this game that their goalie was very good,” said senior forward Shaelynn Guilfolye, refering to Eastchester goalkeeper Brianna Williams. “I had the fear of going into PKs knowing she was that good.”
Thankfully for the Pirates though, it wouldn’t come to that.
With under two minutes left, Pearl River’s Sarah Donovan scored off of a corner to give the finally break through Williams and the Eastchester defense and help lead the Pirates to a 2-0 win and to a second-straight appearance in the finals.
“We always have a problem with scoring,” Donovan said. “Any game for us is going to be hard; no team is going to just lie down.”
After Donovan’s goal, Eastchester went from playing defensively into desperation mode, with Williams striding way out of her goal and acting like an 11th field player. Guilfoyle subsequently got the ball behind Eastchester’s defensive line and finished on the breakaway to seal the win with four seconds left.
Though it was on an open net, it was not the easiest goal that Guilfolyle has scored.
“It was kind of really scary; if I missed it, it would have been embarrassing,” she said. “After Sarah scored, we had the momentum behind us, but my goal assured that we would win.”
Eastchester, a team that dealt with injuries early in the year and then subsequently upset second-seeded Rye and 10th-seeded Byram Hills in penalty kicks, will graduate five players, including Williams.
“Brianna in goal saved us throughout the year; it’s never easy to lose any senior,” head coach Frank Fiore said. “These girls got together at the end of the season, they said ‘we need to change here.’ They started playing for each other, it’s been. We knew we could play with all of these teams, we just had to go out and do it”
Pearl River will move onto the final, which will be a rematch against top-seeded Somers, at Yorktown High School on Sunday at 4 p.m.
“We always know they are going to be a great team,” Donovan said. “They are the ones who knocked us out (last year), so we’re ready this year. We have a really good team this year, so I think we’ll be able to put up a good fight.”
Player of the game: Sarah Donovan, Pearl River. The sophomore, an all-section selection as a defender last year, was moved up the central midfielder in the second half. Her size and skill made a big difference in helping the Pirates control possession in the half.
Turning point: With the threat of overtime looming, Pearl River managed to get a corner on the left side with under two minutes left. Guilfoyle swung the kick into the box right to Williams, who was unable to corral the ball. It slid through her hands right to Donovan, who headed the ball in.
Quotable: “We were trying to make opportunities, but they are a good defensive team, but we kept our composure,” Pearl River head coach Tim Peabody said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them; this was a challenging season, we graduated seven seniors from last year. I have seven sophomores and one freshman starting, and you can’t really ask more from high school kids to come out and do their best like they did today.”