By Mitch Silver
The Rye Country Day Wildcats faced three tough opponents in the first half of their New York State tournament play-in game Monday — the low October sun, the brutally gusting wind, and the ninth seeds from Packer Collegiate. Head Coach Cristiano Pereira diagnosed the problem at halftime with his team a goal behind: “We’re playing defensively. Let’s wake up and go on the attack.”
Was it the pep talk, the change of ends that gave the Wildcats both the sun and the wind, or a combination of all three? Whatever it was, the locals played the second half like a different, more aggressive squad. And it paid off nine minutes in when all-time leading scorer Cole Price raced into the right corner and spanked a cross beyond the far post to the waiting head of the youngest player on the field, freshman Troy Rigby. Packer’s keeper made a play for the ball, but sophomore James Leake beat him to it to knot the game at 1-1.
The wind and Price’s speed gave the home team numerous chances over the next half hour of play, but nothing found its way into the old onion bag, as they say on TV.
Before the first 10-minute overtime began, junior forward Brett Robinson must have downed some Kickapoo Joy Juice instead of Gatorade, because he would score a hat trick—while facing both the wind and sun once again — before the beleaguered Pelicans knew what hit them. First, Price beat two defenders along the end line. Then he fed a perfect pass to Robinson for the tap-in.
About three minutes later, Rye Country Day earned a corner kick from the left side. Robinson called what he did next “my spin move.” It freed him up by the far post for an easy header, making the OT score 3-1.
But he wasn’t done. With Packer’s defense pushing up in an all-out attempt to score, young Rigby fed the blond forward a nifty through ball. The goalie managed an initial stop, but Robinson scored on the second bite of the apple.
After the game, he was asked if he’d ever scored a hat trick before, in any game. “Never!” he said. “My teammates made it all possible.”
Price scored a final goal with a minute left in the second overtime to push the final tally to 5-1. For their troubles, the 8th-seeded Wildcats earned a match-up post-press time with top-ranked Riverdale in the main draw of the New York State Association of Independent Schools tournament. And they were happy to be there.
Cole Price races to set up the tying goal.
Midfielder Cole Boester pursues his man all the way to the sideline.