NEW ROCHELLE- Even by Section 1’s standards of a very condensed preseason, Suffern had little time to prepare for Saturday’s opener against New Rochelle on Friday afternoon.
The Mounties were supposed to play Rye in their lone preseason scrimmage on Wednesday, but an accident that caused a huge traffic congestion at the Tappan Zee Bridge stranded them for four hours, causing them to miss the match.
“We made the most of it,” senior Kyra Greenbaum said. “It was a good bonding experience. The scrimmage didn’t really faze us, we let it go and moved on from it.”
The missed playing time, however, showed early in Friday’s game, with New Rochelle dominating possession for the first 15 minutes of play.
Suffern was able to get back on track, however, and opened the floodgates late to score a 4-1 win.
“The first fifteen minutes, we were a little scrambled, we didn’t really know what to do,” junior Elizabeth Ellsworth said. “But we figured it out.”
Suffern got goals from Greenbaum and Ellsworth in the 42nd and 52nd minutes respectively to break out to a 2-0 lead and set things right for the Mounties.
After losing in the Class AA sectional quarterfinals to eventual Section 1 champs John Jay-East Fishkill last season, expectations are high for Suffern.
The Mounties return the bulk of last year’s core, including Cruz, a three-time All-Section player and a Journal News/lohud.com Elite 11 selection.
“When we finally started winning the 50-50 balls in the middle, that’s when we started to make better passes,” Cruz said. “This is our year; it was a good opener.”
New Rochelle itself is also dealing with increased expectations. The program has been steadily improving over the past few years, and had a huge breakthrough in last year’s sectional tournament with an upset win over traditional power Scarsdale in the quarterfinals.
“Due to our success from last season, we have more expectations and we have to deal with that,” junior midfielder and captain Ruby Hastie said. “But I’m excited to go further than we did last season.”
Although Friday’s result wasn’t favorable, the opening minutes showed a lot of promise for the Huguenots.
“I think for a while, we got comfortable, and that was our downfall,” senior forward and captain Sydney Jasper said. “I like how we started out. It shows how much we’ve grown, and keeping Suffern on their heels showed our improvement.”
Player of the game: Elizabeth Ellsworth, Suffern. Her first goal would be the eventual winner, and she also added an insurance goal in the 90th minute.
Turning point: In the 67th minute, New Rochelle was able to draw a penalty off of a throw-in. Hastie scored on spot kick to cut Suffern’s lead to 2-1.
Two minutes later, Suffern’s Sam Cooperstein passed a ball upfield to a streaking Kailey Brenner, who finished on the fast break to put the Mounties back up two.
Stat line: Brenner added an assist, with teammate Allie Goldstein also tallying an assist and goalkeeper Cassidy Rykowski making three saves. … For New Rochelle, Alexa Ostrager made eight saves.
Quotable: “At first, we were doing a 3-4-3 formation, and then our middle was just kind of open,” Greenbaum said. “Now, we’re 4-3-3, that’s our new formation. We’re pretty comfortable with it.”