SOMERS – Turns out, the sour dose of reality dispensed in the final week of the regular season was better than any pep talk.
Winning is no longer taken for granted.
The level of intensity climbed exponentially in the second half on Friday, helping Somers come back from an early deficit to post a 4-2 win over John Jay in a tense Section 1 Class A semifinal.
“We came out in the second half like, ‘We are going to win this game,’ “ Tuskers midfielder Melina Couzis said. “It’s been a while since we had that edge.”
Somers was dominant most of the fall, but came into the playoffs off back-to-back losses. It was a shock to the collective system. The Tuskers were forced to do reflect and rebound.
The end result was a quick attitude adjustment.
“It was definitely upsetting because we hadn’t lost many games in a while, much less two games in a row,” Somers forward Jenna Menta said. “It was a reality check. We’re not going to cruise through every game so we really need to fight to get every win. It actually was a positive for us.”
Georgia Mraz had the Indians on top in the opening minutes on a free kick from 35 yards out.
The Tuskers were getting a number of chances, but failed to answer until Couzis headed a Menta throw-in back to Katrina Kurtz with 17 minutes to go in the half. Caroline Touzeau answered in the next 60 seconds and John Jay was leading 2-1 lead at the half.
Five minutes after the intermission was over, Ali Kalayjian knotted the score. The pressure only increased. Menta was incredibly precise with a free kick and Couzis had Somers in front 3-2 with 12 minutes to play.
It’s a connection perfected over the last three seasons.
“We all work on finding each other, and it doesn’t matter who it is,” Couzis said. “I knew where she was putting the ball and I went for it.”
Ciara Ostrander added one more a short time later to quiet any hopes of a comeback.
Player of the game: Menta didn’t exactly fill up the box score with the one assist, but her work up front and on throw-ins kept the pressure on John Jay the entire game.
Turning point: At halftime, the Tuskers were genuinely upset and they came out with some extra fire. Getting rewarded with the Kalayjian goal made a big difference.
Stat line: Lauren Chiriboga and Lauren Jockimo combined to make five saves for Somers. … Allison Oestreicher came up with nine saves for the Indians. … Couzis and Ostrander also had one assist apiece for the Tuskers.
Quotable: “I think we realized we are sometimes vulnerable,” said Somers coach Paul Saia, whose team will take on Pearl River at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Yorktown High School. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, it only matters what you do on the field that particular day. … Pearl River is a very well-coached team, a strong defensive team. We’ll do our best to prepare for them.”