WHITE PLAINS – Before the start of White Plains’ game against New Rochelle, the team’s first game since the death of head coach Mike Leone, Kali Peeples told herself she would score right off the bat for him.
She won the opening draw control and, 27 seconds in, finished a pass from Makayla Fee to put the Tigers up.
The junior scored the game’s next two goals to set the tone, helping White Plains to an 11-6 win.
“He was always like ‘good job, Peeps!’ That would always motivate me,” Peeples said. “I really miss that on the sidelines. Those first three goals were for coach.”
The win was a positive note for what has been an emotional week for the Tigers.
On Thursday, Leone, who had transformed the program into formidable Section 1 power, passed away from a rare blood disorder at the age of 49.
Before the game, there was a moment of silence for Leone.
“You have an emotional situation, we all lean on each other,” said Gabe Robles, Leone’s longtime assistant who has taken over the head-coaching duties. “They lean on each other, they lean on me, I lean on them. That’s the only way you get through situations like this.”
New Rochelle, a team still seeking its first win, improved its play in the second half. Late in the game, the Huguenots went on a 3-0 run to cut the score to 10-6.
“I thought it was a positive game, the shots were almost even, so I’m proud of my players,” New Rochelle head coach John Ciccone said. “I knew Mike for the past couple of years, he was a great guy, great coach, always pleasant. He was well-known and respected throughout the league.”
White Plains, a team that graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad, improved to 2-2.
“We have younger girls, so we have to work on our chemistry, but I think overall, we had a really good game today,” White Plains senior Makayla Fee said. “We did it for coach.”
Player of the game: Kali Peeples, White Plains. She finished with four goals, all in the first half. She also won 12 draw controls and picked up a team-high three ground balls.
Turning point: After Peeples’ opening goal, New Rochelle got sustained possession in the White Plains end. White Plains’ defense held up, however, and sophomore goalie Jennifer Ortega made three consecutive saves to keep the Tigers up a goal.
Stat line: For White Plains, Fee finished with two goals and three assists, Katie Avezzano had three goals and an assist, Maddie Povemba scored twice, while Christina Stumpf, Julia Mancini and Julia Reggio all had assists. … For New Rochelle, Shannon Mcguire had two goals and an assist, Haley Fullerton scored twice, Kaitlyn Gonzalez and Phoebe Luftig had a goal each and Zoe Steffenson had two assists. … Ortega made 12 saves for the win, while New Rochelle’s Emmy Yarmy made seven saves.
Quotable: “We wanted to play this game for coach; he was a huge inspiration for us, and we all miss him dearly,” Peeples said. “We wanted to come out and play hard just like coach would have wanted us to do, and we did that. We’re pushing through for him.”