THEILLS – With North Rockland up 4-3 at halftime during Monday’s game against Rye, it looked like that the Red Raiders would be in for their first down-to-the-wire game of the season, especially after Rye won the opening draw control of the second half.
Gianna Guerra would have a say in that, however.
The senior goalie made three saves in what turned into a five-minute possession for Rye. After North Rockland got the ball back, the Red Raiders moved the ball down midfield and within seconds, got a goal from Kaitlyn Gutenberger to take a 5-3 lead.
“When you come up with a save, it motivates your team,” Guerra said. “We came into the game knowing that it was going to be a tough battle, knowing that we were both undefeated.”
It helped set off a dominate run of play the rest of the way in what turned out to be a 10-5 win for North Rockland.
More importantly, it kept the Red Raiders perfect with a 7-0 record.
“We’ve been cheering each other one and making sure we’re working on what we need to work on,” North Rockland freshman midfielder Kerri Gutenberger said. “We really wanted to focus on our rising clears, and we wanted to pick it up, get it over there and score.”
Monday was the first time this season that both teams faced off against an elite Section 1 team.
Rye, which fell to 5-1, had dominated weaker competition prior to facing off against North Rockland, outscoring it 81-15.
The Garnets didn’t help their cause disciplinary-wise, taking three penalties in the second half.
“We got to be better than that, we pride ourselves as a team that doesn’t get yellow cards; they sent double-teams early, and we didn’t handle it too well,” Rye head coach Dennis Hurlie said. “It was a game that we desperately needed, to find out where we are. We’ll watch the film and get better from it.”
North Rockland will put its perfect record on the line again on Wednesday against league rival and state power Suffern, the three-time defending sectional champions.
The last time North Rockland beat Suffern was in 2013, back when Guerra was a freshman.
“Coach says to treat it like any other game,” she said. “If we hype it up too much, we’ll get ourselves worked up, but if we come in strong with a good mindset, we could possibly come out on top.”
Players of the game: Kerri and Kaitlyn Gutenberger, North Rockland. The sisters both had hat-tricks. Kerri led North Rockland in the first half with two goals and, older sister Kaitlyn scored all three of her goals in the second half.
Turning point: After North Rockland went up 5-3, Rye got it right back on a goal from Abby Abate. Following that, North Rockland scored five consecutive goals, the last one coming with 5:23 left on a goal from Kaitlyn Gutenberger, to take a commanding 10-4 lead.
Stat line: Guerra made seven saves, five of them in the second half, for the win. … Lizzie Fox had a goal and two assists for North Rockland,, with Aleya Corretjer adding a goal and an assist. … Abate led Rye with two goals, Margaret Mitchell had a goal and two assists, while Amanda Hartzell and Caroline Naeve both had one-goal, one-assist games. … DiNardo made six saves in the loss, four of them in the first half.
Quotable: “We wanted to focus on what we need to improve on for the rest of the season,” Guerra said. “Today was definitely one of those games where we could focus on what we need to work on for the rest of the week.”