ARMONK – Any visions that Byram Hills had of dominating its way to back-to-back Class A boys soccer titles have been erased after extremely tight games in the first round and quarterfinals, but the end goal remains the same.
The second-seeded Bobcats still have the opportunity to repeat thanks to a 1-0 win over No. 10 Pelham on Monday. They’ll host the winner between No. 3 Tappan Zee and No. 6 Riverside in the semifinals on Wednesday, their 10th consecutive trip to the semis.
“I just think we’re happy to be moving on,” senior Zachary Beinhacker said. “We’re having great possession, it’s just in that final third where we really have to execute. But we’re outplaying them and passing the ball really well, so there’s really nothing to complain about.”
Byram survived an overtime scare against No. 15 Brewster in the first round on Friday and had several opportunities to score in the first half against Pelham, including a shot from Jack Beer that hit the post in the 38th minute. But at halftime, the Bobcats found themselves deadlocked in another 0-0 tie.
They finally caught a break five minutes into the second half on a foul which took down senior striker Ben Weinstein inside of the Pelham box and resulted in a penalty kick opportunity. Byram called on Beer, whose shot deflected off of Pelham goalkeeper Matt O’Neil and in for the lone goal of the game.
“Today I was more nervous than usual, but that’s only because I’ve already taken a penalty (kick) on them and (O’Neil) knew where I was going,” Beer said. “But I have a new penalty style, so I was good with it.”
The Bobcats continued to apply pressure, putting 12 shots on goal compared to just three for Pelham, but had goals from Weinstein and David Noel waved off in the second half due to offside calls.
“We knew they’d be a physical team,” Beer said. “But we knew we could match that.”
Player of the game: Jack Beer, Byram Hills — The center midfielder helped the Bobcats dominate possession and showed great vision to create for his teammates with crisp passes. And, of course, he netted the only goal under pressure in the 45th minute and allowed Byram to exhale.
Turning point: In the minutes following Beer’s goal, the Pelicans made their biggest push of the game. They created a few opportunities between the 46th and 55th minute, but the Bobcats weathered the storm. Goalkeeper Matt Groll made his biggest save of the game on a close-range shot from Jonathan Salama.
Stat line: Byram Hills (15-2-1) — Beer scored the lone goal and Groll made three saves. Pelham (9-9) — O’Neil made 11 saves.
Quotable: “There’s definitely good things and bad things,” Beer said. “One of the negatives is that we have to work on our finishing. That’s a big thing that we’ve struggled with all year, but the good thing is that Brewster was the first time that we came back from behind. We knew that we could show some character. That was a positive.”