From left, Annabelle Thomas, Meredith Tutun, Maddie Childs, and Caroline Cox celebrating Childs’ game-winning goal against Harrison November 7.
Zoe Rockas attacking the offensive zone.
Sage Ruttenberg being jubilantly lifted by goalie Bell Jackson after the win over Harrison.
Meredith Tutun setting up the shot that would lead to Rye’s first goal against Mamaroneck.
- Photos by Noreen Childs
Rye High School Girls’ Soccer
Garnets Capture League Crown for 10th Straight Year
Riding the wave of senior captain Maddy Childs’ game winner in double overtime in an invitation-only “Saturday night lights” match against a feisty Harrison Husky squad November 7, the Rye Garnets Girls’ Soccer team climbed to 7-0. Sandwiching an away game win against Pelham November 9, between the Harrison win and a hard-fought tie against Mamaroneck November 10, meant a successful stretch drive, setting these gutsy girls up as a potential No. 1 seed heading into the final week of a season truncated by Covid-19.
As the playoffs approach, Coach Rich Savage remarked at how impressed he’s been with this team’s character and fight, and the chemistry created by the senior leaders. He’s singled out the value of the collective “12th player” — the bench. Their spirited cheering has never been this important, as all home games are limited to parents-only and visitors aren’t allowed at away games.
Maybe the Garnets expected a cakewalk against the Huskies, as they’d beaten them handily earlier in the season, or maybe they were distracted by the Senior Day celebration held before the game. In any event, Harrison came to play, and Rye seemed overmatched in the first half. Without the goaltending heroics of Bell Jackson and the speedy outside back play of Sage Ruttenberg, Harrison might have been up a few goals at halftime.
In the second half, Rye midfielders Caroline Stevens and Lauren Mehrara took more assertive control of play and started to dish off the ball to the speedy wing duet of Zoe Rockas and Meredith Tutun. The hustle and drive of forwards Annabelle Thomas and Mali White began to reap benefits. Center back Reilly Traynor made several aggressive stops and helped drive the ball deep into the offensive zone. Rye knocked on the door several times late with strong offensive charges, but Harrison answered back each time with a key stop. The crossbar and both posts were tested loudly by Rye shots, but nothing hit the back of Harrison’s net.
Enter Maddy Childs. The senior captain had to follow a Covid-19 required quarantine and missed the last two weeks before this big game. She was well-rested and eager to play and said later, “I just wanted to make the most of what was left of my season.” A consummate team player, Childs was in the right place at the right time. With both teams knotted in a 0-0 tie in what seemed like an endless battle just under the five-minute mark of the second OT frame, Childs took a pass up the middle and in close from Rockas, kept her poise, and buried a perfect shot into the lower corner of the goal. Although she had to be helped off the field with a calf strain, a smile never left her face. “It was a great way to end Senior Night,” she said after the game.
At Pelham, an early goal on a nice feed from Isabelle Harvey to a streaking Tutun down the wing and a well-placed shot in the lower left corner and Rye took the lead 1-0. Instead of pouring it on from there, the rest of the first half was a sloppy mess of boom ball and frenzied ball handling. Jackson once again stepped up big, making several athletic saves. In front of her, the defensive pair of Ruttenberg and Traynor bent, but never broke, and held Pelham scoreless throughout the half.
Despite more energy and coming close on a few corners and rushes, the second half was more of the same. Nonetheless, Rye held on to win. But the bus ride home lacked the customary celebratory atmosphere. The girls all knew they had to play better against upcoming foe Mamaroneck.
The intensity returned against Mamaroneck, but not until the back half of the first half. Until Rye got back into their groove, Rye’s defense had to stand tall and Bell Jackson came up big on a few acrobatic saves. Just near the 15-minute mark, outside back Sage Ruttenberg made a great tackle, stole the ball off the Tigers’ forward’s foot, shucked and jived, and got the ball up field to Caroline Stevens, who fed the ball down the wing to Tutun. Tutun beat the defender, made a nice cut in just inside the box, and rifled a shot which the Mamaroneck keeper stopped on an acrobatic diving stop with her foot. No matter, Rye now started its surge.
Led by the energy and speed of midfielder Caroline Stevens and Lauren Marrara and strong defensive play by the backfield trio of Traynor, Ruttenberg, and Despina Spiris, Rye held firm and began to push the ball forward and swarmed the offensive zone. Rockas, Childs, and Tutun all had chances to score, but Mamaroneck held firm. With overtime winding down, Rye had another close-range chance foiled. It was off to overtime again.
With just under five minutes to play in the second overtime, Traynor used her valuable noggin to score off a targeted corner from Tutun. The Garnets seemed poised for a dramatic victory. But before the Rye faithful had time to savor the goal and celebrate the victory, Mamaroneck knotted the game less than two minutes later and overtime wound down without a winner.
Had you told Coach Savage that his team would be undefeated through eight games, only allowing one goal all season with two games left, he might have chuckled and said, “wishful thinking. But this team is turning heads and minds and creating buzz. Now Coach Savage is saying “The best is yet to come!” With the playoffs coming up, we shall soon see.
Playoffs began this week. Rye had a first-round bye, and will play their first match November 19 at home.
- Rye Record Sports staff