News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
By Tony Pinciaro & Ray Gallagher
Somers came into the 2023 varsity girls’ soccer season with one goal in mind – win a sectional title and perhaps cap it with a state crown.
The Tuskers, already among the Section 1 elite, had endured tough sectional losses in 2021 and 2022. These disappointing and premature conclusions to their seasons gave the Tuskers added impetus to reach the state’s highest level for just the second time in program history.
Somers (23-1) returned a mix of veterans and underclassmen, led by senior captains Jordan McMorrow and Anne Maguire, and immediately established itself as a sectional favorite. As the season progressed and the wins kept mounting, it was becoming evident that Somers was the team to beat.
Somers completed the regular season undefeated, earned the No.1 seed in the Section 1 Class AA Championship and cruised to its first title since 2014, beating Horace Greeley, 3-1, in the final.
The Tuskers were challenged in regional play by Vestal (Section 4 champ), then Valley Central (Section 9 victor), but the Tuskers prevailed 2-1 in both games. Somers was able to play poised while its opposition was rattled under the state-playoff pressure.
Somers entered the state final four as the No.2 team in Class AA per the New York State Sportswriters Association rankings with Spencerport No.1 as the two met in Cortland Saturday.
Unfortunately, undefeated Spencerport (Section 5) reversed the script on Somers, scoring the tie-breaking goal with 11 minutes remaining in the game for an eventual 3-1 victory. Somers sophomore Lindsay Ulaj drilled the game-tying goal but the Tuskers could not mount another goal-producing attack.
Spencerport went on to complete a perfect season and defeat Section 11’s Smithtown West (LI) to win the state title Sunday.
“I think it was a good game, despite the result,” said McMorrow of Spencerport. “Once they scored the second goal, we started to push the pace to try and tie the game.”
McMorrow and her teammates have left their mark on the program with an outstanding season.
“I am extremely proud of my entire team and for all that we did accomplish,” McMorrow said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team the past four years. It has really been a pleasure.
“At the end of the day there is so much to be proud of and we left the Spencerport game with much more than just a loss.”
Even though McMorrow, Maguire (who will attend Fordham next fall and also play soccer) and their classmates graduate in June, Somers will return the high-scoring tandem of Tiana Righetti and Syracuse-commit Julia Arbelaez in 2024. The future is bright.
“I think that this year was an incredible season,” said Arbelaez, the team’s leading scorer. “We are such a tight-knit group off the field, and I think that really translated to how well we played together. It’s no easy task to go 23-1 on the season, and everyone played a tremendous role in that. This year has been really about being a collective unit and putting the we before me. From the beginning, our training sessions were combined with JV and we just became this big family.”
The veterans welcomed the junior varsity players as they were called up, knowing full well what they brought to a team that started seven underclassmen for the better part of the fall.
“When the playoffs came and all of them were called up, they fit right in and we just became an even stronger unit,” Arbelaez said. “Making it to the state final four is something that hasn’t been done by the girls program since 2014, so it was huge. While the loss in the state semis was sad because we wanted to go all the way, we have so much to be proud of. Our team has surpassed expectations and faced so many obstacles thrown at us and just took them in stride, starting with limited numbers trying out for the program and some conflicts with injuries and sickness changing our plans in the final four of states.
“This group is a really special one, and a lot of us have been playing together from a very young age,” she added. It makes the season ending so bittersweet; we’re all sad for it to end, but we couldn’t be more grateful for the season we’ve had and so proud of what we have done.”
Something in the Somers DNA suggests the Tuskers will wreak additional havoc in the years to come.
Sourcing & Methodology Statement: