Eldred headed to state quarterfinal
MIDDLETOWN, NY — For the Lady Yellow Jackets of Eldred, it's a family affair as a cadre of seniors leads a young team in search of the Holy Grail in the form of a state soccer title.
Eldred took to the field undefeated and ranked number 2 in New York State on Monday, October 23 against the Lady Warriors of Webutuck (5-11) at Middletown High’s Faller Field in a contest to decide who would be crowned the Section IX Class D champion.
At the final buzzer under leaden skies, the Eldred remained unbeaten as the posted a 16-0 record by defeating their opponents 3-0, thus earning a ticket to the opening round of the states against the Section II champions in early November.
Before the match, Eldred coach Sonia Kidney told her team to forget the “lights and all the hoopla” and focus on the field.
A good reminder to the booters who returned for their fifth consecutive time in sectional play, and a valuable lesson to all the newbies competing for the first time under the lights.
Eldred took a 1-0 lead in the final minute of the first frame as Hailee Kolvenbach fired a shot to the far right corner to beat Warrior’s hard pressed goalie Laura Mendez.
In the second half, it was all Lady Yellow Jackets offensively, despite some determined defensive play by Webutuck.
Eldred’s Lenae Kelly scored at 28:57, and at the 6:56 mark Paige Weyant added icing to the victory cake on an assist by Taylor McNeill, shutting out the Warriors.
Webutuck’s coach Mark Moren said that Eldred’s first goal near the end of the first half, followed by the second unanswered score in the next half “took the momentum out us a little bit.”
“We played hard right to the end… I’m very proud of them," he added.
Webutuck’s goalie Laura Mendez had her hands full against the Lady Yellow Jackets, and in the wake of sharing a few tears with her teammates after the game, took an upbeat take on things.
“I’m very proud of my girls; they played their butts off," she said.
Kidney said her squad needed to “come out and hit it as soon as we could.”
Eldred has a reputation as a second-half team, and this match was no exception.
Following the late frame score in the first half, they came out full speed ahead in the second half on the way to the win.
Sami Clemmons anchors the net for Eldred, and celebrated her fourth sectional title.
In the closing minutes of the match, she electrified the crowds on both sides of the aisle with a leaping deflection of a shot on goal and in a move that nearly caused her coach a heart attack, sprinted to the corner and pounced on the ball to end the Warriors last ditch chances at scoring.
And then it was time for some post-game interviews with the victors.
“I thought it was a really good second half… we came back a little stronger and we showed ‘em why we’re here," said Kelty.
Weyant added her take on the idea of playing as a family.
“We worked together well given that most of us haven’t played [before] on this type field.”
Putting a wrap on it all, Kolvenbach said, “It’s like a family, not just one person. It’s a family on that field.”