Pearl River senior Amanda DeCourcey asked the official if her penalty kick would win Friday's Section 1 Class A girls soccer championship game at Somers, but he wouldn't tell her.
"It was terrifying, but really exciting at the same time," DeCourcey said. "I knew I had to make it. If I didn't, Caitlin Noonan would have, but I can't even put into words. It was so scary."
DeCourcey beat Somers goalie Justine Huber to give Pearl River the victory on penalty kicks, 4-2, and the championship.
"We saw it finally cross the line and we bolted to her, and we bolted to (goalkeeper) Lauren Gallagher," Senior midfielder Marissa Scognamiglio said. "It's the best feeling in the world."
DeCourcey's eyes teared up when she spoke about sharing the victory with senior Marissa Scognamiglio, her teammate of five years whose brother, Thomas, passed away from bone cancer during the season.
"Amazing," DeCourcey said. "Especially with Missy's brother. It's great to win this for her. It means so much more when you are playing for something."
"We did it for Tommy, which made me happy," Scognamiglio said.
Pearl River did not seem like it would need such drama, building a 2-0 lead on two goals by senior Casey Walsh, who nearly made it 3-0 when a second-half shot banged off the top of the goal. Walsh scored five goals and assisted on three more in the Pirates' four-game section tournament run.
Walsh nearly made it 3-0, but her long direct kick hit off the top of the goal and bounced away. Somers also lost one of its top players, Carolyn Casey, to a red card. Head Coach Keenan Deegan was also ejected for arguing the call against Casey. Still, Somers found a way to battle back against a defense that had been stifling.
The Pirates had not given up a goal in three previous playoff games and seemed to be on the way to another shutout until Somers sophomore Melissa Righetti drew a foul and scored on a penalty kick with 11:56 remaining.
"We knew they were capable of it," DeCourcey said. "The penalty gave them the boost to get the goal, but we didn't let them score any more (after they tied it). We picked it up and finished when we needed to."
Just under five minutes later, freshman Hannan Eberts outraced Pearl River defenders down the right side and scored to tie the game with 7:04 left.
"We thought we had it in the bag, but obviously we didn't," Walsh said.
"We fought hard to get here and I think we were just stunned when we lost the lead because we hadn't given up goals in a number of games," Pearl River Head Coach Tim Peabody said. "It threw us a little bit. They almost felt like they lost because they gave up those two goals. As we went into overtime, we realized we didn't lose. We were still alive."
Both teams generated opportunities during the overtime periods, but neither could score. Gallagher made some key stops for the Pirates.
"She's a young kid, but we're like a family in the sense that we have confidence in everybody," Peabody said. "She was the money kid. I had total confidence that she was going to pull us through."
She helped the Pirates get to penalty shots.
"It's so nerve-wracking," Walsh said. "We did it for each other. We had composure, but that's because no one will harp on you if you miss it. Yeah, it's disappointing, but we still love each other."
Somers sophomore Mayley Banner missed the goal on the first penalty kick and teammate Nicole Anes put her shot off the post, giving Pearl River the opportunity to win by scoring on its first four penalty kicks. The Pirates did just that with goals by Walsh, Erin Woods, Scognamiglio and DeCourcey.
Somers was the defending section champion, having beaten Pearl River in the semifinals a year ago.
The Pirates will have less than 24 hours to celebrate the victory before their next game, a regional semifinal against Section 9 champion Cornwall 1 p.m. Saturday at Arlington. Though they still have states ahead of them, the Pirates talked about the section title as a primary goal and the end of a journey for a team that lost in the semifinals at Somers a year ago.
"For the past five years, Missy and I have been working for this," DeCourcey said. "Every year, we got a little farther. This is the perfect cap to our five years here. The entire team stepped up to make this a perfect season."
"It's an amazing ending to a five-year journey to get to the section final and win on penalty kicks against the team that kicked us out last year," Scognamiglio said. "We got closer each year and finally won. You can't ask for anything more."