RYE BROOK, N.Y. – Once North Salem took a lead two minutes into the second half of its Section 1 Class B Girls Soccer Championship quarterfinal game Sunday, the Tigers were not going to give it up.
The defense, led by Lea Trageser, stifled numerous Blind Brook shot attempts in the second half and this sent the sixth-seeded Tigers to a 2-0 victory over the third seed.
North Salem, now 9-6-1, will play at second-seeded Bronxville 2 p.m. Tuesday in a semifinal.
Brenna Brown opened the scoring in the second half at the 2:36 mark and Noenie Bichu added an insurance score with 5:10 remaining in the game. Camilla Fay made seven saves to post the shutout.
“After I scored I remember looking up at the clock and seeing 36 minutes and I thought this is going to be the longest 36 minutes,” said Brown, with a laugh. “We’ve had games where we’ve gone up and that had goals scored against us late.”
Even though Blind Brook opened the second half with the ball, North Salem seized control and kept the pressure on. Following a Brown throw-in, she moved to the center of the field, picked up a loose ball and drilled a shot off the post. Just as Blind Brook goalie Rachel Askinasi reached for the ball, it caromed off the post and with heavy English, deflected off of her and just crossed the goal line.
“I had noticed that they were clearing the ball to the middle,” said Brown, a four-year varsity player. “So I figured I would sit back and wait for the ball to come out, which it did. I saw a couple of seams, got a little closer and went for the far post.”
Following Brown’s goal, Blind Brook increased its intensity, however, Trageser and her unit met the challenge. Many Blind Brook shots were blocked by the defense and the few that made it through were handled by Fay.
“We knew it was important to keep the ball in front of us so we had to maintain a balance of not being too aggressive, but also also containing them,” said Trageser, a four-year varsity player.
The win was especially sweet for North Salem, which lost in the quarterfinal round to Bronxville last year. The Tigers are hoping to reverse the final outcome when the teams meet Tuesday.