Girls Varsity A Soccer Poised to Overcome Challenging First Half of Season

 SoliviaJunior forward Olivia Bryant is a prolific goal scorer whose speed is key to the Raiders’ offense.Heading into the 2018 season, the Scarsdale High School Girls Varsity A Soccer team had high expectations. Coming off an impressive 11-4-2 record in 2017 and with a number of key players returning, the Raiders seemed poised to repeat, if not exceed, last year’s success. With the first half of the season now complete, however, things have not turned out as planned. Faced with the most difficult early season schedule in memory, with six consecutive games against highly ranked non-League opponents, the team finds itself with a record of 2-6, seeking to find its footing as it faces eight consecutive home and home League games over the rest of the regular season. Notwithstanding the team’s disappointing record at mid-season, there is cause for optimism that the 2018 season will turn out to be a successful one for the Raiders.

Following an easy win in their first game against Port Chester, the Raiders faced Somers, North Rockland, Mahopac, Clarkstown South, Suffern and Arlington. Each of these teams is very strong and in all six of the games, the Raiders’ mettle was tested. The team generally rose to the challenge, maintaining possession for at least half the game in each instance, but the team’s difficulty in putting the ball in the net, combined with an occasional defensive breakdown and/or fouls that were called against them in the box in the waning minutes of two of the games, resulted in close losses.

Coach Mindy Genovese and Assistant Coach Keira Fox have used a variety of lineups and successfully rallied the troops heading into this past Monday’s first League game of the year against arch-rival Ursuline. The game was played at Ursuline, which is expected to be the Raiders’ primary obstacle to a League championship, and the Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The first goal was scored midway through the first half on a beautiful cross near the left sideline by senior co-captain Nayumi Parente-Ribeiro to fellow senior co-captain, Riley Edlitz, who one-touched the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal over a leaping Ursuline goalie. The Raiders had dominated play up until that point so the goal came as much as a relief as a cause for celebration by the Raiders’ fans. Then, early in the second half, senior co-captain and mid-fielder Allison Stafford, who has been a force this season in spite of being man-marked most games, beat the Ursuline defense with a quick touch down the right sideline and crossed the ball to sophomore JoJo Denion, who calmly placed the ball into the net beyond the reach of a diving Ursuline goalie. Denion and sophomore center defender Tory Von Redden, who was a force throughout the edlitzForward and senior co-captain Riley Edlitz is the team’s leading scorer at mid-season.Ursuline game, have been two of the key additions to the team this year. With a 2-0 lead and 30 minutes left, the game seemed in hand for the Raiders, but a tenacious Ursuline team quickly took control and put two goals in the net, one on a free kick from 25 yards out, tying the score at 2-2 with ten minutes left. The game was played fairly evenly from that point on, with one scare coming as an Ursuline forward broke down the left side of the field with the ball, seemingly behind the Raiders’ defense, only to be stymied by a sprinting Stafford who came out of nowhere to cut off the angle and prevent a shot on goal. The game seemed headed towards overtime, but with 30 seconds on the clock, junior forward Olivia Bryant won the ball in the corner to the right of Ursuline’s goal and sent the ball cross-field to senior winger Elizabeth Elcik, who was uncovered and placed the ball into the net for a dramatic, game-winning goal. The team’s celebration of its much-needed 3-2 victory seemingly could be heard all the way to the Quaker Ridge shopping center.

The Raiders face traditional archrival New Rochelle on Saturday at SUNY Purchase, followed by three additional League games next week. So by next week at this time, we should know if the Raiders are back on track in their pursuit of a deep run in the Section 1 playoffs, as has been expected all along.