Eastchester falls in finals

By MIKE SMITH

Rachel Berk battles for the ball on Oct. 31. Photos/Mike Smith

Rachel Berk battles for the ball on Oct. 31. Photos/Mike Smith

After a solid regular season and inspired playoff push, the Eastchester girls soccer season came to an end on Nov. 2 when they fell to Byram Hills in the Class A championship game at Arlington High School. Despite the 2-0 loss, Eagles’ coach Frank Fiore was pleased with his team’s effort both in the Class A finals and their lead up to the championship showdown.

Nicole Hoffman and Raquel Guadino scored the only two goals on the day as the Bobcats were able to stifle the hot Eagles’ squad, but Fiore said that the team’s showing on Saturday showed a marked improvement from where Eastchester was earlier in the year. In the second game of the 2013 season, Eastchester tangled with Byram-—whose Saturday win was the first section title in the program’s history—falling to the
Bobcats 4-0.

“We knew afterwards that it wasn’t our best game,” said Fiore. “That was a game where we knew that we’d have to make some changes to our play because if we wanted to win a section title, we’d have to go through Byram or a team like them.”

Monica DiDonato keeps the ball away from a Rye midfielder on Oct. 31. On Nov. 2, the Eagles fell in the Class A finals to Byram Hills.

Monica DiDonato keeps the ball away from a Rye midfielder on Oct. 31. On Nov. 2, the Eagles fell in the Class A finals to Byram Hills.

Inspired by the loss, the Eagles began to gel as a team, running through the early rounds of the Section I playoffs. Their chemistry away from the pitch, explained the head coach, was always evident when the ball was in play.

“They began to buy into the concept,” he said. “They made a lot of strides, they were a close-knit bunch, and you could tell that they were playing for one another out there.”

This was evident in the team’s 2-0 semifinal win over a solid Rye team on Oct. 31. Claire Tehan got the Eagles rolling with a goal in the 53rd minute and teammate Dava Fortunata put the game away with her fifth goal of the postseason. The Garnets and Eagles have a good deal of playoff history with one another, including a 2009 Class A finals game that was decided on kicks, with Eastchester advancing to the state tourney.

“There are some teams you play that you just get up for,” Fiore said. “Teams like Rye, Bronxville, you know they’re good soccer teams so you tend to come out and play your best.”

Senior Tori Fleischmann controls the ball against the Garnets at Tuckahoe High School. Fleischmann is one of 10 seniors on the 2013 team.

Senior Tori Fleischmann controls the ball against the Garnets at Tuckahoe High School. Fleischmann is one of 10 seniors on the 2013 team.

After the Byram game, Fiore he did his best to put what the sixth-seeded Eagles were able to accomplish this year in perspective.

“I told the team to keep their heads up,” he said. “Everything we did this year wasn’t for nothing. They played their best, and gave a great effort.”

The Eagles will lose 10 seniors to graduation but will return a host of talented players, including Anna and Olivia Hughes, Claire Teahan and goalie Clarissa Mejia in 2014. Moving forward, Fiore said, the team will look to revamp an offense that will have a new look next year.

“There are going to be a lot of opportunities for girls to step up,” he said. “For us, our biggest challenge is replacing all of the scoring that we’re losing.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

Rachel Berk sends the ball downfield on Oct. 31. Berk and the Eagles defeated Rye 2-0 in the Class A semis.

Rachel Berk sends the ball downfield on Oct. 31. Berk and the Eagles defeated Rye 2-0 in the Class A semis.

 
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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.