Freshman Call-Up Nets Winner for Riverdale

The call up stepped up.

Freshman Julian Burden scored the winner in the 75th minute to give Riverdale a 2-1 home win over Poly Prep in Ivy League boy’s soccer last Friday. He was added to varsity from the JV team just that day.

“It felt great,” he said. “It was a hard game and it felt awesome to score that.”

Riverdale, the defending NYSAISAA champion, opened the game with some strong offensive chances. Two minutes in, sophomore Drew Dworkin scored to give the Falcons a 1–0 lead. Poly Prep, one of the Ivy League’s top programs, then saw a corner kick blocked by Riverdale senior defender Edward Hermann.

It was a back and forth game after that. Poly got a big save from goalkeeper Michael Wirtz on a shot by Dworkin in the 27th minute to help keep the Falcons up just 1-0 at the half.

Early after the break, Poly had a chance to tie it on a corner kick, but Jack Hurkman’s shot went high. The Blue Devils (2-1) finally broke through with a Ben Miles goal with about eight minutes left in the game. Riverdale quickly responded with Burden’s winning goal.

Riverdale (2-0) is coming off of a championship season and head coach Andrew Fitzgerald wants his team to stay healthy and respectful as they try to win consecutive crowns.

“We know what we did last year,” he said. “Obviously we can’t repeat that, but we have a lot of mature student athletes on our team. We not only would want to be the best team in the league but we want to be the most respected, that was one of our goals.”

After losing key seniors from last year’s squad, Riverdale is rebuilding the roster around a core group of eight returning starters. It helped to have 70 players try out for the team.

“I expect guys to step up and fill in, but bring up the young guys at the same time,” Fitzgerald said. “We are still trying to figure out who we have.”

The Falcons added 10 players with half of them being freshmen. They are also preparing for the future, knowing that they are going to lose a lot of seniors after this season. One freshman paid big dividends against Poly.

“Our JV team is strong,” Fitzgerald said. “We were able to bring up a striker and he scored the game winner. It’s pretty unheard of.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Covington, Defense Lead Hayes to First CHSFL Win

On a day when running back Justin Covington and the Cardinal Hayes offense shined throughout the game, the defense needed to finish the job.

The unit ended Monsignor Farrell’s comeback attempt when Lucas Nunez intercepted a Hail Mary pass with 13 seconds to play at the Hayes 15-yard line. It secured a 20-14 Cardinals win over the Lions in CHSFL play last Saturday afternoon at The Rooftop.

“Any win is a good win,” Hayes head coach CJ O’Neil said. “We would have liked to play a lot better, a lot cleaner. Sometimes emotion gets the best of us like it did today. We were in a tough fight with a very good football team. We pulled it out in the end.”

The guy who put his team in position to win was running back Justin Covington. In the opening minute of the game, he caught a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Anderson.

It was the start of a three-touchdown game for the senior who rushed for 172 yards on 10 carries. Covington scored again early in the second quarter as he ran 82 yards to the end zone to give Hayes 14-0 lead.

“It was good blocking by the offensive line,” Covington said. “Once I got the ball, they let me take off.”

Two Cardinal turnovers allowed Farrell to hang around in the game. The teams also exchanged interceptions and turnovers throughout. Another issue for the Cardinals was penalties. O’Neill said the team needs to stay focused no matter what happens.

“Our problem is sometimes we have to compete with ourselves,” he said. “When we compete with ourselves, that’s sometimes our hardest opponent. Hopefully we grow and get better from this.”

On their first possession of the second half, Farrell quarterback Michael Cloppse notched a 2-yard run into the end zone to make it 14-7. Hayes (2-0, 1-0) responded about a minute later with Covington scoring his third touchdown of the game on a 70-yard run to make it 20-7 with 7:13 to go in the third.

Farrell (1-1, 0-1) kept coming. A wide-open Joe Schmidt caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Cloppse to bring Farrell within 20-14 with 8:12 remained in the game. The Hayes defense responded by creating three turnovers in the final 3:00.

“Defense played great,” Covington said. “They shut them down to 14 points. They gave us the ball back and let us score. They played great.”

Defensive lineman Terrell Alexander got in the middle of a pass from Cloppse and intercepted it with 3:12 left in the game and defensive back Shameen Jones caught another critical turnover in the game before Nunez’s pick to seal it.

“Hands down, those guys made some exceptional individual efforts,” O’Neill said. “That saved us more than anything.”

This article originally appeared in the Bronx Times

Reloading Riverdale Adapting to New Roles

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