By Mike Zummo
When Valley Central’s sophomore goalkeeper Maddox Rivera had to leave Thursday afternoon’s game with an injury, the call went to senior Brennan Donachie.
Donachie had a tough game against Beacon, but he held strong against the Newburgh Free Academy Goldbacks, fighting off tough shots, raindrops, as the Vikings posted a 1-0 win on their home turf.
“It’s amazing,” Donachie said. “It’s honoring because VC has been on a soccer drought for a long time. I think we’re finally back ready to play and it’s amazing. We’re recovering so great as a team.”
Rivera left the game about five minutes in the second half. The game was scoreless at that point, and Rivera signaled to the Valley Central bench that he couldn’t go anymore.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Donachie said. “They’re really good. I’ve heard amazing things about them. They’re a great team. They’ve always put up a fight with us.”
When Donachie came into the game, he was tested immediately by the Newburgh offense.
In the 67th minute, Donachie blocked a shot from Steven Hernandez from the left with a dive.
“Maddox is probably one of the best keepers in Section 9 as a 10th grader,” Valley Central coach Paul Berkowitz said. “You saw his shot stopping. That’s not a mistake. He can do that. He’s a senior and it’s hard luck being behind someone like Maddox. But when Brennan went in, there was never a question. I had no doubts.”
Eventually the Vikings gave him a lead with about 16 minutes to go in the game on a goal by Breyten Schaper.
“It brings a little bit of relief, but also a little fear,” Donachie said. “Because if they score again, it’s 0-0, and you have more pressure on you for the rest of the game.”
The Goldbacks weren’t at their best missing their All-American forward Javier Rodriguez for most of the game due to injury. However, Rodriguez did come into the game with about 25 minutes to go.
And Schaper’s goal seemed to spark some intensity in the Goldbacks.
“It’s always scary when you score against a team as talented as Newburgh because if you wake the sleeping giant, what’s going to happen?” Berkowitz said. “And they definitely woke up and they were coming at us, and full marks to them for their effort.”
The win snaps their four-game losing streak and Berkowitz commended Donachie for recovering from a tough game against Beacon two days earlier. The Vikings lost their two divisional games to Pine Bush and Warwick and were scheduled to head into a difficult battle on Monday against Monroe-Woodbury.
The Vikings beat Newburgh down two of their best players.
“That was a good win,” Berkowitz said. “Hopefully, we can rally from here because we’re 2-4. We were hard done on two of those games. So, I’m looking forward to Monday’s game.”