Ninth grader Elizabeth Lee heads the ball away from danger.
Rye Country Day Girls’ Soccer
And There Was Joy in Ryeville, When Wildcats Tied Fieldston with Seconds Left
By Mitch Silver
In 1888, Ernest Lawrence Thayer wrote about a hard-played sporting event this way: “The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day.” Sure enough,
Mighty Casey got his turn at bat that afternoon. And he struck out.
On September 9, things looked equally grim for the Wildcat eleven. The Rye Country Day Girls’ Soccer team, under new head coach Amanda Popoli, was losing to visiting Fieldston on a first-half goal scored off a mad scramble in front of the goal after a corner kick. Time and again, Popoli’s charges would bring the ball up the field in search of the tying goal, only to be denied by a physical defense and a determined goalkeeper.
In the 80th minute of the match, senior Caroline Geller passed the ball up the left side to sophomore Julia Kavanaugh. She found senior Amanda Bortner rushing the ball up the left sideline. Coach Popoli, standing just across the line, urged her on — one Amanda to another. “I knew she could beat the girl guarding her and cross it into the penalty box.”
And that’s exactly what Bortner did. Forward Charlotte Price was on the receiving end of the pass as the clock ticked down. The senior co-captain realized a teammate had a better shot, so she slipped the ball to fellow co-captain Isa Stronski.
Known for her accuracy, Stronski was to Rye Country Day in that moment what Casey was to Mudville: Mighty. She swung her right foot and sent the ball to the keeper’s left into the net for the tie that felt like a win.
After the game, the new Head Coach and Assistant Coach Jenny Smith congratulated the players on their fortitude. Meanwhile, the Fieldston girls, heads down, packed their bags after a tie that felt like a loss.
The team will travel to Hamden Hall for a game post-press time before returning to host Greenwich Academy in a rivalry game September 14, at 2.