Kayla Greco | Democrat
From left, Eldred seniors Shannon Brucher, Rebecca Morgan, Samantha Banhart, Nicole Elvin, Erin Startup, Angie Schadt and Zoe Zuckerman hold their first sectional championship plaque.
Eldred girls' edge Manor in Thriller
Story by Eli Ruiz, Photos by Kayla Greco
MIDDLETOWN November 1, 2013 It was fitting these two teams would be meeting in the Section IX Class D girls’ soccer championship game a rubber-match of sorts.
After all Eldred and Livingston Manor had split their regular season series, and ended up having to share the OCIAA Division VI title. Eldred, by virtue of their top-seed-status, received a semi-final round bye, whereas Livingston Manor advanced to the Class D championship round with a dominating 2-0 home win over John A. Coleman.
So it was only natural that the two squads would have to clash once more.
And what a clash it was Tuesday at Middletown’s Faller Field, as the Lady Yellowjackets rallied late to pull off a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win and claim their first sectional title in nearly 30 years.
“I can’t quite describe the feeling,” said elated Eldred coach JJ Gass. “This is amazing and just how I saw things turning out. I just didn’t know in whose favor.
“I mean we knew it was gonna be a one-goal game, we just didn’t know what way.”
The Lady Wildcats struck first with just over 17 minutes remaining in the first half on Farrah Mills boot past Eldred goalkeeper Jenna Burns.
Eldred answered back 10 minutes later on a goal from freshman Lyndzee Kelty, evening the score at 1-1, where it stayed until early in the second half.
That’s when Ami Calo delivered a gorgeous shot into the net, staking Manor to a 2-1 lead.
“We were strong last season, but these girls just don’t have any give up,” offered Gass. “We’ve been down before [this season] and we came back with composure and endless fight.”
With just 10 minutes left in the match, Manor’s Jordyne Shaver brought Kelty down hard from behind, drawing what would turn out to be a costly yellow card as senior mid-fielder Rebecca Morgan would send a laser on the direct kick into the back of the net, tying the game at two.
“Oh my God,” exclaimed an ecstatic Morgan after her team’s big win. “I only had one thing in mind, and that was the back of the net. I just wanted to hit the back of that net. Nothing else.”
With momentum on its side, Eldred struck again for the game winner just a minute later. After breaking loose down the field, freshman Jordan Lepes’ kick was too strong and the ball bounced hard off the top-bar of the goal. A subsequent header attempt off the rebound from sophomore Melissa McMonagle was blocked by Manor goalie Ashlynne Ratner. But McMonagle had the presence-of-mind to go after the ball and pitch a perfect pass to Kelty who blast in her second goal of the day and perhaps the biggest in the last 30 years for the Eldred’s girls’ soccer program.
“We had a great team last year but we just weren’t as strong as we are this year,” said Morgan. “We’re just so much closer and our defense is just way tougher [this season]. We definitely deserved this.”
“This is amazing,” said Kelty. “We pushed hard and we played hard today on defense and on offense. Coach told us it was going to be close.” As for how her team prepared for the big match, Kelty said, “With penalty kicks. Lot’s of penalty kicks and crashing the goal.”
With the win Eldred improved to 10-7-1 and moves on to play the Albany area (Section II) champion in a state quarterfinal back at Faller Field on November 9th. Game time has not yet been determined.