It was a light but significant field hockey day Saturday as both Briarcliff and Valhalla advanced from the opening round of class C sectional play and Rye Country Day ended its regular season with its 12th win.
Below are recaps from Saturday, along with my game story from Briarcliff’s win over Croton.
CROTON - Sometimes rankings don’t mean a heck of a lot.
Saturday was one of those times.
Sarah Bianco’s two second-half goals lifted visiting No. 10 Briarcliff to a 2-0 win over No. 7 Croton-Harmon at Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School.
The win means Briarcliff will play at No. 2 North Salem Wednesday in the class C quarterfinals.
Saturday’s win was only the fourth for Briarcliff, which had earlier edged Croton 1-0 and tied it 2-2.
But the Bears, who’ve suffered multiple one-goal losses this season, played like a lot more than a four-win team.
They dominated almost start to finish. Croton had just one penalty corner. Briarcliff had 12 and both its goals came off corners.
Briarcliff goalie Michelle Rotondo was tested only four times – three in the first half – in recording the shutout.
Her counterpart, Dominique Corveddu (pictured with teammates trying to stop the Bears’ Nikki Silberman), kept her squad in the game, making 15 saves.
The junior Bianco, who did a lot more than score – picking off multiple passes as the Tigers’ defense tried to clear the ball – said, going in, she figured the teams were evenly matched but Briarcliff wanted the win more.
“We just wanted it so bad,” she said. “We have been the underdog for so long. We just knew we could beat this team and we just went after it.”
Croton coach Dorothy Perrone noted the Bears’ attack forced her forwards to drop back to help on defense, which then detracted from the Tigers’ offense.
“I felt like they did a good job closing in on us,” said Perrone, whose team finishes 4-9-4.
Bianco’s first goal came off a Melanie Prinz assist.
Her second was unassisted, as she popped a loose ball off a scramble up over Corveddu, who’d just made three straight saves.
“It’s sad. We’re a much better team than this,” said the senior Corveduu. “But this is the farthest we’ve made it in quite a few years and I’m proud of my girls. I love them so much.”
Notes: This was Corveddu’s first year starting but fourth on varsity. Throughout the game, she urged her team on but later said of her squad’s lack of offense, “I think there wasn’t much of a connect.” She added that she hoped people would look at her squad’s overall year, rather than focus on its playoff exit. ‘We’re the closest-knit team in school. It’s heartbreaking to have to leaqve but we’ll carry that bond,” she added.
Bianco, the team’s inserter, noted her first goal came off a broken play. “It didn’t go as planned. I just hit it in,” she said. She added Bear players yell at each other on the field to “push harder” but it’s all supportive.
“We definitely can bring it,” she said of her team’s play.
Briarcliff coach Danielle Fiore said she told her team pre-game, “Keep the pressure on. Follow your shots. Don’t give up.”
Briarcliff lost a pre-season scrimmage to North Salem, the only time the two squads faced each other. But Fiore said her team has changed since then.
“We’ve worked on skill-set, teamwork, passing. We’ve come together as one. At the beginning of the year, we were individuals a little bit more,” she explained.
The game time for Briarcliff’s game at North Salem is still to be determined.
Other October 26 scores
Rye Country Day 5, Hopkins 0
Mariana Lee had a hat trick and Kathleen Curtin and Zoe Verni each had a goal as the Wildcats ended the regular season at 12-1 and as the top seed in the New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs.
Emily Duarte had two assists and Charlotte Cooper one.
Claire Bartosic stopped eight shots for Hopkins.
Rye Country Day has a first-round playoff bye before playing the winner of Wednesday’s No. 4 Riverdale vs. No. 5 Nichols game this Friday at RCDS at 2:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
Valhalla 4, Hastings 0
Alyssa Dolan, Stephanie Halbauer, Jennifer Pezzolanti and Rachel Beckley all scored for the eighth-seeded Vikings.
Pamela Romero-Cruz and Halbauer had assists.
Marianne Tymocz had seven saves for ninth-seeded Hastings and Kristine Cura had four saves for the Valhalla in posting the shutout.
Valhalla will now play No. 1 Bronxville at Bronxville Wednesday. The time is still to be determined.