Late second goal hands Poly tough defeat

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It was a familiar blow to the Blue Devils, but this one was the toughest to take yet.

Poly Prep has competed all season with the top girls’ soccer teams in the Ivy League, but has consistently come up short of cracking the elite group. And so it was on Oct. 21, when Poly appeared on the verge of taking down league leader Horace Mann, only to see the Lions score in the closing seconds.

Olivia Becker’s goal off a scramble in the box with eight seconds to play gave Horace Mann a 2–1 victory in Poly’s fourth one-goal loss of the season — including one by the same score to Horace Mann in both teams’ league opener. The Blue Devils pointed to an inability to cash in its scoring chances as the biggest reason for not getting over the hump.

“We played our hearts out for so long,” Poly midfielder Maeve Regan said. “It stings that in the last seconds they got one more. That’s the way it is.”

Regan scored the Blue Devils’ lone goal midway through the second half to tie the score at 1–1, after an early penalty kick goal by Sophia Fikke. Regan missed her first swing at the ball, but made good on her second chance off a rebound.

“I just put something on it and it went right to the corner,” she said.

Poly (8–6, 4–6) continued its barrage on the Horace Mann (10–1–1, 8–1–1) net in the 68th minute on a Hayley Urban corner kick. Emma O’Keefe kicked a ball inside the box toward the goal and Ally Lamb headed it toward the keeper at the near post.

“We should be scoring more,” Poly Prep coach Devon Whalen said. “We just can’t find ways to finish. It feels like there is a magnet and magnet is north and the ball is north and it’s not going in.”

Regan had a shot from eight-yards out saved minutes later and in the 75th minute Devon Olive had a 20-yard blast stopped by Horace Mann’s Jane Frankel. With less than a minute to play in the game, it appeared Poly had one more chance on a corner kick by Urban. Instead Horace Mann, which was playing without star Sydney Watson (sick) was able to clear the ball out and push it up field.

It earned a corner kick of its own from Fikke, which Blue Devils keeper Julie Hanns charged. She was able to clear the ball out of the crowded box. Becker got to the loose ball and scored the winner to the lower left corner.

Despite the disappointment of the defeat, Poly feels confident heading into the private school state tournament. It has received consistent contributions from Olive, Urban, Emily Sauvayre and O’Keefe. They have proven their unit is as good has any in the league.

“We can beat any team that we come up against,” Regan said. “As long as we work very hard.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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