In the final minute of Friday afternoon’s girls’ lacrosse game against the visiting Briarcliff Bears, Horace Greeley’s Sophia Rutman provided two final hints why the Quakers were about to win their first game of the season.
The Quakers’ sophomore goalie thwarted both Ashley Goldstein and Emma Smoler on point-blank shots in free-position situations, bringing a fitting end to a day in which her ability to keep the ball out of the cage made a big difference. Rutman wound up stopping 14 shots by the Bears, enabling Greeley to eventually take command and go on to a 20-9 rout.
“Sophia Rutman got the start and she just had a great game with the stops,” said Quakers head coach Annamarie Marasco afterwards. “She never seems to get frazzled. With Sophia in the cage, I feel confident and the girls in front of her feel confident because she just makes the right decisions.”
“Yeah, their goalie played unbelievable, lights out,” said impressed Briarcliff coach Jess McDonough. “I think we threw a lot at her and she stopped everything. So, in my eyes, she’s like the MVP of that game. She was awesome.”
The Quakers, who had begun their season with a loss to North Salem, got six goals from Lily Ives, five from Bella Arrese, four by Clara Curnin and three more by Hailey Rosenthal. They opened up a 9-6 lead at halftime, stretched it to 15-8 midway through the second half, then scored the game’s final five goals to win in a romp.
“They had one sub, so they don’t really have a bench,” said Marasco. “We knew we could get them tired by using our subs. For them, they got tired. That’s a big part of the game. It’s a running game and we were able to put fresh legs in.”
The lack of depth for a Briarcliff team that graduated eight players, but only has two newcomers, hardly mattered last week as the Bears opened the season by crushing Hastings and Dobbs Ferry by a combined 30-6 margin. But facing the Quakers, the Bears found themselves trailing just 30 seconds into the game.
Back-to-back goals by Sam Kilman, who finished the day with five of them, gave Briarcliff its only lead of the game, 2-1, just over three minutes after the opening draw. Another Kilman goal, with 13:17 left in the half, tied the contest for the fourth and final time at 4-4. But just 20 seconds later, Ives sent a low shot past the Bears’ Charlotte Baer into the left corner of the net and Greeley never trailed again.
Briarcliff was still within 7-6 with 7:14 to go before halftime as Julia Dalessandro converted after getting a pass from Kelly O’Donnell behind the cage. The Quakers, though, soon answered with a goal by Curnin and then stretched their advantage to three goals as Arrese fired in a lefty shot with just 39.5 seconds left on the clock.
“We weren’t making the best decisions,” said the Bears’ McDonough. “We weren’t making high-percentage passes. We weren’t taking high-percentage shots. So I just think, overall, when we started playing a little bit sloppier Greeley did a great job of capitalizing on every one of our mistakes and converting every turnover into a goal. They played very well.”
Just as they had to start the game, the Quakers scored 30 seconds into the second half as Rosenthal scooped up a loose ball in the defensive end and proceeded to race 80 yards down the field before firing a shot past Baer from right of the cage. The Greeley lead grew to 11-6 four minutes later when Ives converted on a free-position shot.
Kilman’s fourth goal of the game brought the Bears back within four again with 19:09 left to play. But that was as close as they would get as Greeley outscored them 9-2 the rest of the way. The Quakers erupted for three goals in 54 seconds to open up a 14-7 cushion.
The last of Kilman’s goals, on a one-hopper into the right side of the cage as she was running to her left, narrowed the Briarcliff deficit to 15-9 with 12:15 remaining. Unfortunately for the Bears, they never scored again after that while the Quakers got goals from five different players to make the final score lopsided.
“We were able to shut down their big player,” said Marasco. “And we can score. But we have to clean up some unforced errors. We made some adjustments at halftime and tried to get our girls to understand go for the open shot and not try to force it. Our offense can score if they stay patient and work for the open shot.”
With her team’s early two-game winning streak ending with a thud, McDonough knows there are plenty of things the Bears can now work on in practice.
“I think we’re just gonna go back to the drawing board and go back to the foundation, keeping it simple,” she said. “We went away from our game plan and when the score started to get away from us we just kind of got a little nervous. We’re still trying to get our groove and seeing our team chemistry.