After beating Harrison 7-2 on Thursday October 26, Somers earned a berth in the Class AA finals versus Horace Greeley on Saturday. At Nyack High School, the undefeated, number one seed crossed the bridge and faced the possibility that they could lose some of the intensity to the traffic. The same went for a previous game that went into double overtime. No way, the girls had put in too much work to be distracted and simply stayed present, according to Julia Arbelaez.
“It was this moment right here. We all wanted it so bad and we went out on the field and showed it,” said the middie after Somers defeated the Quakers 3-1.
The Tuskers didn’t wait to back up the words either. 15 seconds into the game the girls were lining up for a corner kick, and Jordan McMorrow sent Horace Greeley goalie Lauren Singer diving for the save.
Arbelaez taking this corner, she was getting the fan base out of their seats moments later. Arbelaez received the throw in, controlled and tried to lead Annie Maguire. But the midfielder just lost the foot race.
The play actually originated elsewhere, though. A pass for the Greeley wing played ahead, Natalia Sanchez didn’t opt for the easy kick out and secured the ball instead. “I try to keep it in play,” she said, and led to the throw-in the other way.
The refusal to yield the sideline was not just contained to Sanchez and is a crucial component to the Somers transition game. “We really stress playing under pressure, being confident and finding feet,” said Coach Kelci Hegg.
The defense playing offense contributed too, and Marley Hawkins did her part. The center back dribbled past midfield and pouched a pass into the crease. A little long, Singer won the race this time.
Of course, Hawkins didn’t forget to play her position. First the sophomore contained a long pass ahead to Rachel Glick and then slid-tackled the ball out of bounds at 33:15.
The status quo still in place, the offense readied to break it. Without much room on the sideline, McMorrow made space and chipped into Adrianna Cooke. Cookie as her teammates call her, the midfielder put the stops on the ball, Tiana Righetti picked up the deflection and hit the sweet spot at 28:06.
1-0, Cooke was also there to stir the pot on the next Somers near miss. The ball heading down the sideline, the junior kicked the ball off the Greeley defender and Somers had a corner. Arbelaez teeing up, Marley Hawkins went high and headed the ball just over the crossbar at 25 minutes.
A little triangulation was next. Sanchez fielded on the sideline, threaded a lead pass to Arbelaez in the middle, and she deflected the ball for free space on the right. Arbelaez then stopped on a dime and double dribbled a pass for Cooke in the middle. But Cooke’s shot sailed high.
So the post inevitably had its says. Starting on the sideline when Maguire deferred on a kick out of bounds, Somers control led to Righetti popping the ball inside to Lindsay Ulaj. She posted up the defense and deftly pushed to Arbelaez. Getting a foot, the thud at 17 minutes kept the scoreboard on lockdown.
Two minutes later, Ulaj’s shot from the right rolled just wide and the near misses almost screamed for Greeley to get their chance. On cue, a long pass forward had Hawkins and resulted in a one on one for Glick.
The race on, Julia Schmidberger came out, and Maguire used her long strides to come from behind. All three collided, and without a penalty called, the ball rolled out.
9:33 left in the half, Maguire showed no ill effects and picked right up by going coast to coast. Taking the ball from Sanchez, Maguire didn’t hesitate, broke up field and made a move at midfield to break down the defense.
From there, Maguire passed to Cooke, the senior drifted wide and left Maguire’s head primed. “She made me a beautiful ball. The lead was perfect,” said Maguire, and the header went in off the post at 9:03.
A commanding lead, Somers was looking good going into the half, but the breather didn’t work in the Tusker’s advantage. A minute in, Gianna Limongello sent the ball across the crease and Sophia Ivanov knocked it in. “I think we came in a little bit confident and weren’t expecting it,” admitted Maguire.
But the defense didn’t change its directive on settling - especially Maguire. On three occasions the captain elected to control the ball and play ahead instead of kicking for the sidelines.
Clock killed and opportunities denied, she also did a number in the middle of the field. A 50-50 ball with LiMongello, Maguire directed the ball forward with the outside of her foot, and in wait, Arbelaez sent a through ball forward. On the cut, “Cookie” was left one one one, but her shot rolled just wide.
At 27 minutes, another near miss had Arbelaez taking the frustrations in stride for her team. “It’s a matter of keeping your head and that’s what we all did,” she said.
No doubt, the moment of truth again hinged on Somers maintaining possession. A lead pass into the corner for Glick, and Hawkins won the race from the other side. The Somers defender then hooked the ball down the sideline and Greeley did not take note
In receiving, the Quaker wing simply lofted for a long easy save for Schmidberger, and back the other way, Cooke led Arbelaez on the sideline. She ran under the bounce, bodied her way through two defenders and had enough leg to beat Singer for the death knell at 21:26.
Running off into the far corner after the goal, the junior was assured that she and her hardworking team deserved the glory but neither the offense or defense is ready to rest. “We want more,” Arbelaez concluded.
Somers Plays Wednesday versus the Section 4 Champs in Johnson City, NY