By Melanie Cane
In their last regular season game, October 28 at home against Hopkins, the Wildcats overcame a whistle-happy referee, an 0-2 deficit, and a formidable foe to win 3-2. They finished the season 12-3 and are seeded first in the NYSAIS tournament.
In the first half, the Wildcats came out flat. They were struggling to adjust to a new formation implemented by Coach Georgette Summers to prepare for post-season by capitalizing on the individuals’ strengths. Four minutes into the half, Olivia Friedberg received a green card and Hopkins scored three minutes later.
The Hilltoppers racked up two corner penalties, but the Wildcats defense shut them down. Halfway through the first half, Wildcat Kaela Smith got off a great shot on a pass from Gemma Green, which missed the goal by inches. Then Rye Country Day failed to convert a corner. On the clear, Hopkins hit a long pass down the field where Wildcat Alana Jones was waiting to return the ball to her teammate Paulina Harasimowicz at midfield. Rye had a corner penalty and Elizabeth Friedberg missed the goal by inches. They earned another corner penalty and Green missed by inches again. The half ended with Rye down 0-1.
The Hilltoppers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second half on a corner penalty. Rye Country Day’s Green converted a corner penalty on a pass from Katherine Holtby at 25:32 to make it a 2-1 game. Green scored again less than a minute later. She took the ball into the circle, dodged several opponents, and then flicked it past the goalie. The Wildcats had several more corner penalties, where they took point-blank shots that the Hopkins goalie blocked with her body.
With seven minutes left to play, Wildcat Kaela Smith scored the winning goal on a tip in off Elizabeth Freidberg’s shot. Olivia Friedberg received a green card with six minutes left, but the team stepped up to play great defense in her absence.
Tension was high at the end of the game as Hopkins got a corner penalty at the final buzzer. They played the corner after the buzzer and Wildcat goalie Genny Kortick deflected the shot. Hopkins got off two more passes before Rye Country gained the game-ending possession.
This was the Wildcats’ second come-from-behind thriller in two games. On October 26, against Millbrook, they overcame a 0-2 deficit with ten minutes left to play and won 3-2 in OT.
This team thrives under pressure, noted Coach Summers, which bodes well for post-season. Rye Country Day hosted Nichols in the NYSIAS quarterfinals, post-press time. If they win, the Wildcats will host the semifinals November 3.
Hopkins players in pursuit of Elizabeth Friedberg
Olivia Friedberg chasing a loose ball.
Gemma Green in motion
Paulina Harasimowicz and Katherine Holtby in control in midfield
The Wildcats leaving the field after the win