By MIKE SMITH
Despite playing what may have been one of their best games of the year, the Rye Garnets were eliminated from the playoffs on Oct. 24 as they fell in kicks to a tough team from Somers.
Garnet coach Jared Small was impressed with the Garnets’ play however, lauding his boys for their exceptional effort on the pitch.
“We played a great game,” Small said. “And the best thing about it was that we played better as the game went on.”
Despite having home-field advantage coming into the outbracket game, few had Rye pegged as the true favorite, given the fact that Somers’ record was a product of playing in a league against Class AA powerhouses.
Rye was able to stay with them though, surrendering just one goal in the 70th minute to Ian Warren that sent the game to kicks.
“We were clearly the underdogs coming in,” Small said. “But we played so hard, we were able to wear them down. I would say that we were the better soccer team out there in the last half of the game.”
With the game in the official books as a tie, kicks were needed in order to determine which team would advance to the next round of the Class A playoffs. Unfortunately for Rye, it would be Somers who came through in the deciding round, beating Rye 4-1 in the tie-breaker.
“When you get to penalty kicks, anything can happen,” Small said. “But I was just proud about our really strong showing.”
With the win, Somers moved on to take on top-seeded Byram Hills on Oct. 26, but fell to the Bobcats in first-round action.
The Garnets will graduate seven seniors from this year’s team in the spring and will look to retool next year with players like Jackson Kligerman and defender Will Colwell ready to step up and lead the way.
“I think these guys are ready to emerge as leaders,” Small said. “They started it this year and will continue to do it next year as well.”
As far as the rest of the team goes, Small said, this loss to Somers will be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when the preseason rolls around next summer.
“Unless you’re the state champion, your season is pretty much going to end with a loss. Ours technically ended with a tie,” Small said. “I definitely think we’re going to take this momentum all the way with us into next year.”