The clouds were ominous, as were the first three minutes of Rye Country Day’s matchup against Greens Farms Academy October 1.
By Melanie Cane
The clouds were ominous, as were the first three minutes of Rye Country Day’s matchup against Greens Farms Academy October 1. The Wildcats did not have possession until three minutes in, when Natalie Alpert stole the ball and brought it downfield alone. Although Alpert did not score on the breakaway, she went on to score four of the Wildcats’ five goals and was instrumental in their 5-1 victory over the Dragons.
Alpert scored her first goal at 16:51, in a scramble in front of the net. Six minutes later, Christina Johnson scored after a shot by Alpert rebounded off the goalie’s stick. The Wildcats dominated possession for the rest of the half, but were unable to score, despite having several corners and multiple skirmishes in front of the net.
The skies opened up early in the second half, but the Wildcats continued to play with intensity and determination. Rye Country Day scored when Charlotte Cooper block-tackled a girl in her defensive corner then hit the ball up to Alpert who had a great run down the field and flicked the ball into the goal. Alpert’s third goal was on a skirmish in front of the goal, and her last was on a cross from Cooper that Alpert tipped in.
Ten minutes into the second half, Coach Georgette Summers substituted goalie Ruth Reynolds for Melanie Mandell. Reynolds had three saves but gave up a goal in the last minute of the game on a breakaway play by the Dragons, when the Wildcats failed to mark their men. In contrast, GFA’s goalkeeper Rikeh Saingbe had to make 10 saves as the Wildcats continuously pounded away at the goal.
Wildcats Captain Charlotte Cooper thought it was a great game. “It showcased how we as a team have come together. GFA was quick, so it was just a matter of applying pressure, slowing them down, and playing smart hockey until they made a mistake.” She added, “As a member of the defensive unit, I would say we have greatly improved from the beginning of the season. We have much better communication, jabs, block tackles, and clears to our forward line. Defense sets the play toward goal, and this year many of our goals have started from our defensive end.”
In Coach Summers’ view, the game against Greens Farms was “their best so far this season.”
The Wildcats are 4-1, which is especially impressive in light of the fact that they lost 13 players to graduation.
Coach Summers offered, “Our strength is unity, on and off the field. Our midfield and goalie have experience and have been the glue that holds us together. We are still working on our conditioning.” She added, “This is a young team, but the girls are all sponges and are learning quickly. As coaches we are really enjoying the season.”