Penalty kicks decided the outcome of the matchup between the second-seeded Rye Garnets and the seventh-seeded Lakeland Hornets Oct. 23.
The 13-3 Garnets dominated possession over the Hornets (10-6-1) and had the run of play during the game’s first 25 minutes. Kieran Traynor, Tyler Triolo, and Shun Nagata controlled the midfield and the backline of Lex Cox, Niklas Hoffman, and Jack Gilroy stuffed the Lakeland attack through the entirety of the first half. Still, the game settled in and at halftime, it was deadlocked at 0-0.
The second half saw an early goal from Rye. Six minutes in, Traynor drew a free kick 30 yards out, which was then taken by Charlie Margiloff. Tommy Broderick headed the ball from Margiloff back to Kasen Scarperi, who drilled home the go-ahead goal to put the Garnets up 1-0.
Lakeland was then forced to come out of their defensive shell, sending more players up and creating pressure for the Rye defensive line. Kaden Zion, Chase Pepper, and Alex Rojas offered valiant defensive efforts while Joe Chai and Liam Harrington offered valuable minutes further up the field. With three-and-a-half minutes remaining in open play, Lakeland finally broke through. A loose ball outside of the penalty area led to a driven shot to the corner of the net by the Hornets’ Connor Daly, tying the game at 1-1.
Two fifteen-minute overtimes ensued, with a few excellent chances denied by both goalkeepers. After 110 minutes of open play, it was time for the high drama of penalty kicks.
Goalie Max Crothall lived up to his reputation as the best shot stopper in Section 1, saving the first kick and giving Rye a temporary advantage. Broderick then connected with the back of the net on his kick, putting Rye on top 1-0. Crothall then came up huge again, saving a second Lakeland penalty kick. After a Rye miss and a Lakeland conversion, Traynor was next up for the Garnets. He coolly delivered an excellent penalty shot to give Rye a 2-1 lead. The Hornets third shot went over the bar, leaving sophomore Lex Cox in a position to win the game. Cox drilled home his chance, leading the Garnets to victory and the Section 1 semifinal game.
After the game, Scarperi reflected on his goal and moving on in the playoffs. “The feeling after scoring was unreal in front of our home crowd. However, I knew the game wasn’t over and we had to keep fighting. After the game I was just thankful we could keep moving on.”
Rye Head Coach Jared Small added, “This was a great win against a tough opponent. We showed strong character throughout and appreciated a fantastic home crowd.”
–Photos by Alison Rodilosso