Sunday, North Rockland won its Class AA regional final, Somers won its Class A final and Bronxville won its Class B final to join Class C Haldane in the state semis.
The semis will be played Saturday in upstate Cortland, as opposed to our Cortlandt with a “t”.
The schedule is a challenge for diehard soccer fans, since not only are two sites being utilized Saturday but two games start at the same time.
Sunday also presents a potential problem, with the Class AA and C championships overlapping at a third site.
9:30 a.m. – North Rockland vs. Section 2’s Bethlehem Central at Tompkins Cortland Community College
12 p.m. – Bronxville vs. Section 3 Westhill at Cortland High School
2:30 p.m. – Somers vs. Section 3 Jamesville-DeWitt, Tompkins Cortland Community College
2:30 p.m. – Haldane vs. Section 5 Avon, Cortland High School
The winners play Sunday at SUNY Cortland.
9:30 a.m. – Class AA championship, SUNY-Cortland red field
10:30 a.m. – Class C championship, SUNY-Cortland white field
12:15 p.m. – Class A championship, SUNY-Cortland red field
3 p.m. – Class B championship, SUNY-Cortland red field
Below is my game story with some extra notes from North Rockland’s regional final win over Monroe-Woodbury. I will post my Bronxville game story and Vince Mercogliano’s Somers game story separately. John Meore took the photos for all three games, including the one above of Brianna Williams’ header for North Rockland. –Nancy
North Rockland 3, Monroe-Woodbury 1
FREEDOM PLAINS Maybe it bent — just a little. But North Rockland never broke Sunday, beating Section 9’s Monroe-Woodbury 3-1 in the Class AA regional final to earn a trip to next weekend’s state girls soccer semifinals in Cortland.
North Rockland (20-1) led the Crusaders 2-0 at the half. Then it held on as Monroe-Woodbury (17-3) went on an offensive surge that ultimately saw it score just one goal due to a combination of good defense by the Red Raiders and some bad luck.
“We knew they were going to come out that way,” North Rockland coach Vinny Apicella said of the second half. “We knew if we could weather the storm, the game was ours.”
It was, but it wasn’t easy.
Monroe-Woodbury appeared to have halved the score fewer than three minutes into the second half but an offsides call nullified the goal. Still, forward Hannah Geller scored with 4:22 gone in the half on a semi-break.
Less than two minutes later, Samantha Trimblett just missed tying the score, sending a blast over the crossbar. North Rockland goalie Jenna Braunagel made two of her 10 saves in the next couple of minutes as Monroe-Woodbury kept pressuring.
But then a combo that has worked throughout the season worked again for the Red Raiders. Naya Rivera found Amber Alfonzo (shown below, l, fighting Monroe-Woodbury Nicole Bauer for the ball) with a long pass, then watched as the junior worked her magic.
Alfonzo was blanketed but deked several times before going left and getting just a step on her defender. Then she unleashed a rocket past goalie Courtney Dumain (nine saves).
“With Amber, it’s her skills and athletic ability. They’re just above just about anyone else’s at this level,” Apicella said.
The Crusaders didn’t go away after that but were stopped short of scoring, partly due to Arianna Marino’s relentless defense. Braunagel also made a diving save with 3:50 left.
In the first half, North Rockland got on the board early on unassisted goals by Julianna Cabrera and Taylor Aylmer (Aylmer, 2, pictured below, post-game, with Alfonzo, 4). Cabrera buried a rebound with 9:39 left in the half, and Aylmer scored on a free kick that went just under the crossbar about seven minutes later.
The Red Raiders will play at 9:30 a.m. Saturday vs. Section 2’s Bethlehem Central at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Of North Rockland’s prospects for a state title, Alfonzo said, “We want it. There is a lot of heart on this team — all positivity.”
Notes: Braunagel got shaken up a couple of times, the first being with 18:40 left in the first half. She played the entire game, though. She was walking around afterward with a scraped knee and a bag of ice taped to one thigh. Dinged or not, the sophomore, who remained aggressive throughout Sunday’s game, will no doubt play Saturday. … Dumain was also slow to get up a couple of times but, like her counterpart, kept playing. … To their credit, the refs have allowed quite a bit of contact this post-season. One thing they don’t seem to like, though, are slide tackles, even when the defender makes contact with the ball. Free kicks are being handed out pretty regularly for this defensive maneuver. … Cabrera scored off a rebound of an Aylmer shot with Dumain out of position after making the save. … The crowd really got into it when Naya Rivera went to the sideline at the goal line for throw-ins (one shown here). The excitement rivals that generated by a penalty shot. Rivera can heave the ball to the far post. It’s hard to imagine how strong she’ll be in a couple of years as a senior. North Rockland didn’t cash in this game on any of her throws but it did get some headers out of them. Late in the first half, the Red Raiders headed one of her throw-ins, then got to the ball for another header that just went over the net. Maria Cabrera also headed one of her throw-ins on net with about 29 minutes left in the second half but Dumain made the save. … With 6:50 left in the game (enough time so that it was still anyone’s game), Marino stepped up and stopped a potential odd-man rush. About a minute later, Isabel Zayas had a nice takeaway deep in North Rockland’s end. … Monroe-Woodbury coach Leslie Ahlborn wasn’t surprised by her team’s second-half offensive spark. “We played with a lot of heart in the second half,” she said. “The whole season we prided ourselves on our counter-attack. We talked (at halftime) about releasing a little bit sooner. But we didn’t have too many breaks to make that happen.” … Ahlborn characterized Aylmer’s free-kick goal as ‘beautiful.” … Of North Rockland, she said, “They’re just a pressuring team. By the time we figured that out, time wasn’t in our favor.” … Apicella described Marino as a very good player and remarked, “She was certainly locked in today.” … He cited the play of his middies as key, explaining, “Our midfielders made extra effort to come back and help defensively.” Of Alfonzo, he said, “Any time she has the ball, she’s a threat.”