David Nearly Slays Goliath in Rye Field Hockey Clash

With one minute left in October 5’s field hockey game between Rye and Rye Neck, the Garnets possessed a 20 to zero advantage on short corners, and had forced the Panthers’ goalkeeper to make 23 saves. Despite statistics so overwhelmingly in favor of Rye, the numbers on the scoreboard – the only ones that matter – read 1-1.

The Garnets finally pulled ahead with 42 seconds left, when junior Emma Brinkman banged a shot past Yasmina Gourchane in heavy traffic to secure a 2-1 victory at Rye Neck. Brinkman’s goal, her second in the game, preserved Rye’s undefeated record (8-0).

“We came out flat in the beginning, but our girls didn’t give up until the final whistle,” said head coach Emily Fitzgerald. “It was the first time all season we trailed in a game, so it’s good that the girls got to know that feeling. They had to dig down deep while playing on a wet field.”

Even though it was the Garnets who emerged victorious, the Panthers couldn’t feel like anything but winners afterwards. They took Rye’s best shot early on — make that shots — fending off a blizzard of hard-hit balls, and then capitalized on their lone scoring chance 13 minutes into the game. Sophomore Athena Nathan drove down the sideline, weaved through defenders, and fired a shot on Kaitlin Campbell. The Rye goalkeeper made the initial save, but was then caught out of position as Nathan punched it in at close range on an assist from senior Jenna Cohen.

The Panthers held the lead until midway through the second half, as Gourchane and a defense led by Claire Behar and Amanda Hurlbut continued to ward off Rye’s powerhouse offense. Rye Neck head coach Nicole Bolnik credited assistant coach Amanda Mahncke, a former goalie at Louisville, for the work she’s done with Gourchane.

“To have a final score of 2-1 in that situation is a statement about the type of goalie Yasmina is,” said Bolnik. “She’s very calm and collected in the cage, and if she’s feeling any pressure, you really can’t see it. Every game she gets stronger and better, but she took it to a whole new level today. It was a special moment for our team here.”

While the Panthers (1-4-3) appeared to save their best for Rye, the Garnets have been firing on all cylinders all season. They’ve now outscored opponents 33-4, and have forced opposing goaltenders to make 107 saves compared to just 18 for Campbell. Nine different players have cashed in for Rye, with Brinkman leading at 10 goals. Juniors Tori Virtue and Annie VanWagenen have contributed seven and six, respectively.

“Annie is our experienced leader in the middle, but so many girls have stepped up for us,” said Fitzgerald. “Laurel Kennedy and Rachel Chin are forces, and what makes this team so special is that you never know which player is going to impact a game the most.”

Rye scored a signature victory against Mamaroneck October 2, when they upended the visiting Tigers 2-1. It was a game where everything clicked for the Garnets; they showed what they are capable of when playing at their highest level. Rye’s next game is October 8 at home against Bronxville. They’ll be wearing pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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