Defending Ivy League champion Riverdale knows there will be growing pains as it reloads after graduating a senior class that reached consecutive state title games.
The Falcons fell 3-0 to Dalton in its Ivy League girls’ soccer opener last Friday on Randall’s Island.
“It’s always tough to start out like this,” first-half goalie Gabrielle Maffezzoli said. “I told my team that we just need to keep in mind that this is the first game. We have a whole season to go.
Most of the first half was spent in Riverdale’s zone. The Falcons gave up a corner kick and three shots, with one resulting in a goal, but they were able to notch three shots of their own as well.
Reiterating that it was just the first game, Leah Moore, who was in goal for the second half, said that this year’s group is starting to come together.
“We are trying to work out being a new team and I think we are well on our way,” she said.
Dalton made it a 2-0 early in the second half with a goal on a breakaway after Riverdale turned aside it two previous attempts.
Riverdale played most of the second half without one of its top returning players – midfielder Julia Hyman. She left the game early in the half and did not go back in.
The Falcons continued to fight back with Maya Dubin, Molly Fallek and Natasha Lowitt leading the way. It wasn’t enough as Dalton sealed the win with a late goal. However, Riverdale refuses to be discouraged.
“With time, we are going to keep learning how to play better with each other,” Maffezzoli said. “We are taking it one game at a time and we keep fighting.”
Despite the loss, head coach Orlando Osorio saw some important positives to take from the game. There were certain areas where the team was connecting. He emphasized that there were spots of great decision-making and passing. One aspect that he said does need work is their transition on offense from the midfield to the forwards.
The Tigers’ defense was tough to get past for most of the game. They won many battles getting to the ball first and caused the Falcons to play defense for a majority of the game. However, playing a team at Dalton’s level will only help the Falcons prepare for the rest of the season.
“Dalton has some very strong, very physical players,” Osorio said. “They have a very fast player up front that stretches our defense a lot. They have a marvelous player in the middle that is a huge force. It demands us to run faster, anticipate more and even become more physical.”
Riverdale is coming off of an impressive season last year. It went 17-2-1 and lost on penalty kicks in the NYSAIS final. They lost a core group of seniors, including forward Amaris Hemmings and goalie Jennifer Kronish and are still adjusting to life without them.
“We don’t have the same depth that we had last year,” Osorio said. “But our goal is to have a winning season nonetheless and to be one of the top teams in the Ivy.”
This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times.