YORKTOWN – They grew up so fast.
After losing so many contributing players to graduation, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Pearl River, but there was no shortage of talent coming back. The Pirates only needed time and space to reorganize.
Somewhere in the last month, this group developed chemistry.
And the bond got exponentially stronger in a steady rain on Sunday as Pearl River went into scramble mode and took down Somers in the Section 1 Class A championship game at Yorktown High School.
It was payback. It was validation.
“Oh, my God,” Pirates defender Sarah Donovan said. “This is just unreal. After losing so many people from last year … I think we proved everyone wrong. I can’t even describe what this feels like right now.”
There isn’t much time for celebration.
Pearl River heads to Section 4 on Tuesday for a reginal semifinal against Vestal.
“It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but the people on this team knew it wasn’t,” Pirates forward Shaelynn Guilfoyle said. “We had one goal in mind the whole season and that was to win this game right here. We did it.”
The defending champion Tuskers came back from last year’s title game win over Pearl River as the No. 1 seed.
Melina Couzis pushed a ball through a pack of Pirates to Ciara Ostrander, who turned and tucked a shot under the crossbar to give Somers a 1-0 edge with 4:33 to go in the opening half. The Tuskers’ experience was a big advantage until Pearl River came back after halftime with a different approach.
It only took a little more effort to scramble the game.
“Somers was outworking us in every facet,” Pirates coach Tim Peabody said. “We gave up a bad goal, so we really weren’t far off. I told them they had to compete, our 11 against their 11. We didn’t need to be perfect, we just needed to make plays. That was the difference. Even though it was a scramble, it was our scramble.”
And then a Tuskers defender misplayed a ball that skipped awkwardly in the box into an own goal to knot the score 1-1 less than four minutes after the intermission.
Somers didn’t have the normal cohesion it normally played with after the miscue.
Guilfoyle made a nifty move to get loose after she got behind the defense and gave Pearl River the lead with 17 minutes to play.
From there, the Pirates just played harder and faster.
“Kate Feerick knows our speed on top with me and Kate McNally, and she played a nice through ball,” Guilfoyle said. “The defender was overplaying the line. I took a touch into the middle, dribbled and went right foot and into the side netting because the goalie was too far over.”
Player of the game: Donovan was a key figure in orchestrating a defense that simply refused to allow Somers a chance to possess the ball long enough to counter the final goal.
Turning point: Everything changed following the own goal.
Stat line: The game was less than four minutes old when lightning forced a nearly hour-long delay. … Katherine Carstenson made eight saves for Pearl River.
Quotable: “Pearl River outplayed us in the second half and they deserved to win the game,” Tuskers coach Paul Saia said. “That is the bottom line.”