By Mike Zummo
A wind-aided goal and strong play in goal helped stave off defeat as Valley Central played Pine Bush to a 1-1 tie in Tuesday morning’s boys’ soccer game at Valley Central High School in Montgomery.
“I think we had an incredible effort by the team,” said Valley Central coach Paul Berkowitz. “We had some early chances that we couldn’t convert, and then conversely they had more chances in the second half. I think it was our finishing that wasn’t there, but the effort from the boys was amazing.”
The Bushmen led 1-0 in the second half when the Vikings got a little help from the elements.
In the 56th minute, Luciano Chavarria sent – from the far-right side of the field outside the penalty box – what he thought was a crossing pass into the box. But the wind got ahold of the ball and carried it inside the far post over the reach of Pine Bush goalkeeper Jack Bisaillon.
“I think he was just trying to put a searching ball to the far post in the sweet spot,” Berkowitz said. “I think between the wind and a little mishit, it was deceptive and went over the keeper. It would be surprising if (Luciano) claimed that as intentional. But it doesn’t go in the scorebook as intentional or unintentional. It goes in as a goal.”
Bisaillon thought he had it, but the wind took it away from him.
“I think Jack was saying in the back that he had it lined up,” Pine Bush coach Marc Gittleman said. “Before he knew it, it took a sharp right-hand turn and went into the back of the net.”
For the rest of the second half, Pine Bush continued to put pressure on Valley Central goalkeeper Maddox Rivera. He blocked two shots from Pine Bush’s David Acquah in the 59th minute.
“Maddox came up huge on a couple of plays,” Berkowitz said. “He had two gorgeous double saves two different times and that was after struggling in the first half. That was a pretty strong mental approach to the game for him.”
He also made another double save in the second overtime. He deflected a shot by Sergio Gonzalez, and then stopped another in quick succession.
“(Rivera) was fantastic for them today,” Gittleman said. “I can’t think of a good enough word to say about him. He’s a freshman. He’s going to be there for a while.”
The Bushmen got on the board between the 15th and 20th minutes when Joseph Darrell came off the bench and found a cross that was bouncing around in the box and redirected it past Maddox giving the Bushmen a 1-0 lead.
“It set the tone for us,” Gittleman said. “We talked before the game about putting one in early and setting the tone for the day. We did that, and then the wind kicked in a little bit. It had a bigger effect in the second half when we were going into it. That changed the direction for us.”
It was a strong start for a Bushmen team that hasn’t been on its home varsity field yet. With only two weeks left in the season, the Bushmen were schedule to play their first home game on Monday.
“I can’t ask for any more out of my guys, honestly,” Gittleman said. “We haven’t yet stepped foot on our varsity field and we’re 2 ½ weeks from the end of the season. They’ve been adaptable. They’ve been everything you want from a group of young men. And they’re playing well. They’re not using any excuses. They’re using it to build each other up. It’s certainly been weird. It’s certainly been challenging, but at the end of the day, we’re playing soccer. The seniors are getting their senior year and overall, our team is doing well.”