Pearl River senior Marissa Scognamiglio clung to the championship plaque after the Pirates earned the Section 1 Class A title by beating Somers 2-2 (4-2 on penalty kicks) Friday at Somers.
"Yeah, they're not hanging this in the school," Scognamglio joked.
Scognamiglio's attachment to her team's reward is understandable given the emotional ride Pearl River took to get there, including the near misses since she and senior Amanda DeCourcey joined the varsity as eighth graders.
Just this season, Scognamiglio suffered the loss of her brother to bone cancer during the regular season. DeCourcey said that was on her mind as well Friday night.
"Especially with Missy's brother. It's great to win this for her," DeCourcey said. "It means so much more when you are playing for something."
Hurricane Sandy led to a nine-day layoff before the quarterfinals and a one-day delay of the championship game after last Wednesday's nor'easter.
Then the Pirates watched Somers erase their 2-0 lead in the final 12 minutes of regulation. The Pirates has already given up a goal for the first time in the Section 1 Class A playoffs when Somers freshman Hannan Eberts completed a shocking comeback by streaking past defenders down the right sideline and putting a shot past Pearl River goalie Lauren Gallagher to tie the section championship game at 2-2 with only 7:04 remaining.
"We fought hard to get here and I think we were stunned when we lost the lead because we hadn't give up goals in a number of games," Peabody said. "This is where when you have senior leadership that has been around four or five years helps because they are on a mission. We had to battle. We stretched it out and stretched it out and we were successful, I think, because we never gave up."
Pearl River's experience showed when the game went to penalty kicks, with seniors Casey Walsh, Scognamiglio and DeCourcey making their shots while two Somers sophomores missed, giving Pearl River the victory, 2-2 (4-2 on penalty kicks). DeCourcey made the game-clinching shot, avenging the 1-0 section semifinal loss at Somers last year.
"For the past five years, Missy and I have been working for this," DeCourcey said. "Every year, we got a little farther. It's the perfect cap for our five years here. The entire team stepped up so much to make this a perfect season."
That season ended the next day. Due to the storm-related delays in the schedule, the Pirates had less than 24 hours between celebrating their section championship and opening the state tournament Saturday afternoon against Cornwall.
The fatigue showed as Pearl River let a one-goal halftime lead slip away in a 2-1 defeat that ended the Pirates' season at 16-2-3.
Though the Pirates graduate a deep senior group that also includes Caitlin Noonan, Kelly Guerci, Julie Kuhn, Megan Gallagher and Kristen Scrima, this team also blended in enough youth to return some key starters next season.
Freshman Lauren Gallagher emerged as a standout in goal. Freshman Lauren Zimnoch started all season and eighth grader Grace Moynihan came on in the playoffs after being slowed early on with an injury. Juniors Erin Woods and Lea Miller and sophomores Annie White and Julianna Madigan are also among a group of underclassmen that played key roles this season.
Section 1 Girls Swimming Finals
Pearl River senior Theresa McKallen finished third in the 200 IM in a time of 2:11.80 and fourth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.45 at the Section 1 girls swimming championships Saturday at Felix Festa Middle School. McKallen swam with Taylor Hodges, Megan Conway and Kaitlyn Lange on the 200 medley relay team that took sixth place.
Lange also took fifth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:00.86, helping Pearl River finish ninth in the team standings. Horace Greeley won the team title.
Full meet results can be found on the Section 1 swimming website here.
State Cross Country Finals
Junior Brian Cook ran third in the state Class B cross country championship race Saturday at Elma Meadows in a time of 15:53.7, the top finish by the Pirates.
Catherine Rayward was Pearl River's top finisher in the girls race in 51st place.
Winter Sports Practice Begins
Pearl River's varsity ice hockey team began practice Nov. 5. The rest of Pearl River's varsity teams start practice today.
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