CHAPPAQUA – The old saying that defense wins championships does not always apply on the soccer field.
Horace Greeley made that abundantly clear on Friday.
The fourth-seeded Quakers entered their Class AA first round game against No. 13 North Rockland with an offense that was averaging three goals per game. The Red Raiders boasted a defense that had allowed just one goal in their last eight games.
In a battle of strength vs. strength, offense prevailed in a thorough 5-1 win for Greeley.
“I knew that (North Rockland had allowed one goal in eight previous games), but I also knew that they probably hadn’t seen an offense like ours,” Greeley striker Matt Neuberger said. “We have a lot of different threats, so it’s kind of like pick your poison. It’s either watch the deep throw or watch the shot from the top of the box. It’s a hard offense to stop.”
Something had to give, and Neuberger made sure that it was the North Rockland defense doing the giving.
The senior scored a hat trick like a flash of lightning during a two-minute stretch in the first half and finished with four goals.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Neuberger said. “I was running on a high. Playing in a sectional game, nothing beats it. It’s a great atmosphere and I was thriving off of that.”
After some key saves from North Rockland goalkeeper Chris Dodrill in the opening 15 minutes, Neuberger struck in the 20th minute on a counter-attack to make it 1-0. Before the Red Raiders had a chance to regroup, it was 3-0 and the outcome was essentially decided.
“Any team, if you give up three goals in a two-minute span, it’s pretty hard to come back from mentally,” Neuberger said. “That’s just a hard thing to do.”
The Quakers will host the winner between No. 5 Mamaroneck and No. 12 Fox Lane in the quarterfinals on Monday.
Player of the game: Matt Neuberger, Horace Greeley — This is a fairly obvious choice. Score four goals in a do-or-die playoff game and player of the game honors will be yours.
Turning point: This is also pretty obvious. Once Neuberger scored the first goal in the 20th minute, the floodgates opened and the Quakers came storming through. North Rockland spent the rest of the game on its heels.
Stat line: Horace Greeley (14-3) — Neuberger scored four goals and Jack Cohen had a goal and two assists. Greg Ginsberg and Johnny Gerstein also had assists and Teddy Rader had four saves. North Rockland (8-8-1) — Lucas Ancin scored and Dodrill made 10 saves.
Quotable: “They were sitting in on us pretty much the whole game,” Neuberger said. “They’re going to get their stops on us, but we’re going to keep coming. We’re going to get our goals. We’ve shown that all season.”