It’s 1979. McDonald’s has just unveiled the Happy Meal, Michael Jackson released his first breakthrough album Off the Wall, and Adam Levine is born. This is the last time the Rye Boys Soccer team won the section title.
Exactly 40 years later, they’ve done it again. After winning the Lakeland summer league this past summer, the team knew they had the potential to win the section. Senior captain, Kai Haesslein, said “It was really rewarding for a lot of the guys because it felt like all the work we put in during preseason continued to put in during the regular season was finally being recognized. It’s also pretty cool knowing that we’re the first team to win both [Lakeland summer league and Section final] in the same year.” They faced and beat Somers in said summer league, but they didn’t see them again until the section final on Saturday. They knew they had the skill to beat them, but meeting in November is much different than meeting in the summer. Not to mention that Somers has won 3 out the past 4 Section 1 Class A finals.
In the first half, Somers came out incredibly strong and had the first goal 11 minutes in. Rye converted with 18 minutes to play in the half with a goal from senior Michael Traynor. In the last few minutes of the half, freshman Jonas Van Beurden was subbed in. It didn’t take him long to find an opening and net a shot in the top corner, putting Rye in the lead at the half.
The second half started similar to the first, with Somers scoring early and evening the score. However, a throw-in to Pepijn Van Beurden gave Ata Arslan the game-winning shot. On his brother’s goal and his own assist, senior Pepijn said “Seeing my younger brother score in such a big moment was amazing. The pride and joy that I felt were out of this world. Being able to contribute myself by assisting Ata for the game-winner was great and I can’t wait for the next game.”
Rye finished the game on top, winning the section with a 3-2 score. However, they couldn’t have done it without the fans. Senior Connor Comacho stated, “The game was a once in a lifetime experience. I was really happy we came out with the win, and I would not have wanted to win it with anyone else. The fans really helped because the atmosphere was electric.” Being present at the game myself, I can attest to this electric atmosphere. Rye Soccer superfan, Riki Watanabe, when asked to comment on watching the win in person, said: “I almost cried.” Senior Nina Rothman stated, “It was so cute, it looked like it was right out of a movie scene.” Winning such a hard-fought game under that level of intensity is something I’m sure they’ll never forget.
Rye now moves on to the Regional bracket, where they will take on Section 4 winner Union-Endicott in Oneonta on Wednesday, November 6th, at 1:30 pm.