Pearl River senior Casey Walsh heard plenty of comments about her team's chances against Rye, a traditional girls soccer power coming off wins against Byram Hills and Arlington, which had been No. 1 in Class AA.
That made scoring early to take the lead even more important and helped drive home the importance of Pearl River's 3-0 victory at home against Rye Monday.
"That first goal felt great," Walsh said. "(This win) is a huge step forward. It feels great."
"For us, that's a step in the right direction to play a good team and to be able to dominate the game," Pearl River Coach Tim Peabody said.
Pearl River (9-1-2) did not just beat Rye (8-2), the Pirates controlled play throughout, building off the momentum of Amanda DeCourcey's goal on an assist by Walsh 90 seconds in.
"It felt so great to know we have a chance," Sophomore Annie White said. "We have heart and we came out strong. We knew it was going to be a hard game. WE had to keep our heads up and go after them."
"They caught us on our heels and we never really got in the rhythm of the game," Rye Coach Rich Savage said. "They took it to us."
Pearl River built a 2-0 lead by halftime, both times scoring after corner kicks. DeCourcey scored the first in a crowd in front. Walsh scored the second goal on one of Missy Scognamiglio's two assists.
White pushed the advantage to 3-0, scoring off Scognamiglio's second assist with just over 21 minutes remaining in the game. Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Gallagher made seven saves in the shutout victory.
Peabody pointed to strong performances by his defense, led by sweeper Megan Gallagher.
"She was rock solid," Peabody said. "I don't think she miss hit one ball. Ashley Payne played really, really well. Lauren Zimnoch has played well all year. Kelly Guerci, coming back from an injury, has played phenonemal at stopper.
"It was an outstanding game by (the defense). Against Nyack and Albertus, we made the flash mistake and gave up a goal, Today, against a better team, we didn't give up a goal because we were consistent. We never let down in the back."