SHRUB OAK – Eastchester came off the field at the end of regulation in a good mood, knowing one bounce might very well extend the season.
And then it happened.
Luca Fava located a rebound near the right post seven minutes into sudden death and promptly delivered a 1-0 upset win over Lakeland on Monday in a Section 1 Class A quarterfinal.
The unrestrained celebration that followed eventually continued on the bus.
“I got the ball at midfield and laid it to Mike Branca, he played beautiful ball out wide and Anthony Portale took a beautiful touch,” Fava said. “They made it so easy for me. All I had to do was tap it in.”
There was not even a hint of panic.
“Everything stopped for me,” Fava said. “I don’t really know what to say.”
The 12th-seeded Eagles are in the semifinals for the second year in a row and will visit Pearl River on Wednesday. The fourth-seeded Hornets played without two starters, Nick Foci and Jordan Fein, who suffered injuries in an Oct. 16 car accident .
A third player involved, Matias Prando, was back on the field playing well after having a number of staples removed from his head earlier in the day.
Eastchester (8-8-3) was almost clumsy in the opening half, playing far too aggressively. The approach changed at the intermission. The Hornets (12-5-1) failed to convert a number of chances and began to press as the game wore on.
“It was a much better second half,” Eagles coach Alfio Carrabotta said. “I thought we carried momentum into the overtime. The kids felt good about where we were.”
Player of the game: Eastchester goalie Lucas Barbieri was also in the right place at the right time. He made eight saves, turning away consecutive shots in the final minutes of regulation to keep the game scoreless.
Turning point: With four minutes to play in regulation, Lakeland forward Arben Hoxhaj got loose in the box and tested Barbieri, who deflected the ball. Prando was on it right away, volleying another shot that a stunned Barieri managed to catch.
“The first one seemed like it happened in slow motion,” the sophomore keeper said. “The second one, I didn’t even know the ball was in my hands. It seemed like it was going 100 mph. I got lucky. I caught the ball and we carried on from there.”
Stat line: Portale got the assist on Branca’s winner. … Despite controlling the ball in the opening half, Lakeland only put five shots on goal.
Quotable: “Lakeland is not a team that can be taken lightly,” Carrabotta said. “We really were fortunate today. Our keeper made some key saves, we got a little bit lucky with some bounces and we happened to put the ball in the net.