By Melanie Cane
On their way to their first NYAISA Championship title, the Gryphons broke every school record, including most wins, 13 (seven of which were shutouts), and fewest losses, 2. They also set a record for most goals — 40. They ended the regular season with a 13-2-5 record, a big turnaround from 2012, when their record was 3-14-1.
In the championship game, November 3, the fourth-seeded Gryphons went up against the third-seeded Riverdale Falcons. Conditions were cold and windy for the nighttime matchup. It was so frigid in fact, that many of the fans, sporting winter coats, hats, and gloves, watched the game from inside their heated cars! They got out of their cars when the game went into overtime, and Gryphons fans were warmly cheering when their team won 2-1.
Both teams took the field with energy and determination. Riverdale was slightly more dominant, outshooting Holy Child 4-0 to start, including three corner kicks. But with 12:55 left in the first half, the Gryphons took their first shot, and made it count. Junior Samantha Corbi received a pass from sophomore Margaret Brady 25 yards out and converted on a long shot.
Hold Child clung to their 1-0 lead until nearly 20 minutes into the second half, when Riverdale snuck one into the cage on their 11th attempt. That the Gryphons basically shut down the Falcons offense, was due to the amazing efforts of the defensive line: senior captain and goalkeeper Maggie Welsh, fellow seniors Caroline O’Neill, Sophia Lupetin, and Tanya Slipsager, and freshman Charlotte Brosnan. This defensive wall gave up only 16 goals in 20 games. Welsh, who played flawlessly, had eight saves.
In the ‘there’s no rest for the weary or relief for the frost-bitten’ category, the game went into a 20-minute OT with the score knotted at one.
In the team meeting before OT, Coach Beau Morki said the girls were self-motivated and carried with them an attitude that they were not going to be defeated no matter what happened when overtime began. “You could feel the passion from the entire team.”
The nail-biting pace continued through the first 15 minutes of OT as the players battled it out but were unable to score. And then it happened. With 4:35 left on the clock, Corbi raced down the sideline beating multiple Falcon players to make a 30-yard cross to sophomore Kathleen Daly — the leading goal scorer this year with ten — who put it past the keep.
The crowd erupted and the tension mounted, as Riverdale fought unsuccessfully to equalize. At the final buzzer, Holy Child’s team and fans emitted enough joy to warm the hearts, hands, and toes of an entire community.
“Every game we played all year was a battle and prepared us for the final game,” said Coach Morki. “True competitors can play in any condition, as we did that night.”