SUFFERN – If there is one thing that can be expected from a North Rockland-Suffern game, it’s that it will be a close one.
The past two years, the annual Rockland rivalry game between the schools has been decided by one goal.
On Tuesday, it didn’t look like it would play out that way in the early going.
North Rockland dominated possession early on and at one point held a five-goal advantage. But the Mounties surged in the second half, took their first lead of the game with 4:52 left and held on for a comeback, 14-13 win.
“Early on in the game, they went on their run and we just tried to stay composed; we knew we were going to go on a run of our own,” senior midfielder Tommy Schember said. “We were just trying to possess the ball and get our looks on offense.”
The win was a nice way for the Mounties to avenge last year’s 13-12 overtime loss.
“It’s definitely one that we mark on the calendar, we wanted to do everything possible to get a win today,” Greco said. “Hopefully, we’ll take this win and use this momentum to kick-start us into the playoffs.”
Shortly after Suffern took the lead, North Rockland got a goal from Joey Corbert to tie the score at 13-13. But Greco won the ensuing faceoff, rushed down, found a hole in the middle of the North Rockland defense and ripped a shot in with 2:12 left for the winning goal.
“I knew coach was going to scream at me to settle the ball,” he said. “But I saw the open lane, took the ball, went straight to the goal and cut through a couple kids.”
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After getting dominant performances from Corbert and Tyler Senatore in the faceoff circle in the first half, North Rockland took several penalties in the second half. The Red Raiders picked up a total of five yellow cards.
“I think we got a couple of bad calls against us in the second half; we did a bunch of things to ourselves, but they beat us,” North Rockland head coach Greg Grasso said. “It’s one of the best rivalries in the section, without a doubt. They are a great program.”
Suffern improved to 10-3 while North Rockland fell to 7-4.
“We definitely needed this win,” Greco said. “A win like this shows we got character and we got heart for the playoffs.”
Player of the game: CJ Greco, Suffern. The senior midfielder did a bit of everything, scoring three goals, adding two assists and winning several faceoffs late when they mattered most.
Turning point: With 9:35 left in the third quarter, Suffern got a goal from Brenden Fee to cut North Rockland’s lead to 9-8. The Red Raiders reeled off three unanswered goals to take a 12-8 lead, but Suffern responded with four straight goals to tie the score with 5:22 left. Thirty seconds later, Schember found an uncovered Billy Mahecha in front, and the freshman made no mistake on the finish to give Suffern its first lead.
Stat line: Greco and Tim Patwell both had three-goal, two-assist games for Suffern, Fee had three goals and an assist, Schember had one goal, two assists and five ground balls, Mahecha had two goals and an assist, Lucas Sommers had a goal and two assists and Brian Nicpon had five ground balls. … For North Rockland, Tyler and Dylan Senatore both had four-goal games, Kyle Michella had a goal and seven assists, Corbert scored twice, Steven Apicella had a goal and an assist and Michael Csernecky had a goal. … Suffern’s Dan Sharp made seven saves for the win, four in the fourth quarter, while Jack Guerra (two saves) and Dante Restaino (one save) split time in goal for North Rockland.
Quotable: “We’ve battled against these kids since we were in elementary school, so every year it’s a good game back and forth,” Schember said. “It’s a friendly rivalry, but once we’re on the field, we both want to win. It’s definitely a competitive edge that we have when we play each other.”