WALLKILL – Players braced themselves in anticipation, understanding this week would bring about a series of tests, challenging their aptitude and mettle.
“We take this seriously, so we’ve studied as much as we could,” said Kayla Johannesen, a defensive maven on the Our Lady of Lourdes girls soccer team. “We pride ourselves on being smart and putting in the work.”
Yeah, that Pre-Calculus exam could be a doozy.
Lourdes players celebrate their win over Mount Academy during the girls Section 9 MHAL soccer championship game at Wallkill High School in Wallkill,. NY on Thursday, October 20, 2022. Lourdes defeated Mount Academy. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL
Oh, they played a little soccer on Thursday, too. But the triumph there, some teammates said, was celebrated with a late-night study session.
“We’re student … athletes,” Grace Morra said, pausing to emphasize “student.” The senior had history, statistics and Health Science tests scheduled Friday. “It won’t be easy.”
Neither was the field evaluation that preceded it. But the Warriors also did their homework on Mount Academy, upending the small-school giant in a 5-2 win for the Mid Hudson Athletic League title.
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Morra and Julia Gigliotti each scored twice and assisted each other’s goals, leading a second-half surge that earned their school a sweep of the tournament. The Lourdes boys team had downed Mount Academy in their final earlier that evening.
The girls’ other, more conventional, celebration included the filming of a TikTok video, featuring a dance number led by freshman Bianka Velovic with a guest appearance by the championship plaque.
“We went into Section 9 this year not knowing the teams we’d be facing,” Johannsen said, “so both of us being able to come out on top in this tournament says a lot about our soccer programs. It’s a great way to introduce ourselves to the section.”
Lourdes’ Julia Gigliotti, left, goes after the ball during the girls Section 9 MHAL soccer championship game at Wallkill High School in Wallkill,. NY on Thursday, October 20, 2022. Lourdes defeated Mount Academy. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL
What it means
Lourdes has rolled through its competition thus far and enters next week’s Section 9 Class B tournament seeded first and heavily favored. The MHAL was a tune-up, but also a gauge of how they could perform in a playoff-like setting against other unfamiliar opponents.
“We’ve had the same approach throughout the season,” coach Anthony LaRocca said. “Not knowing what to expect, we always have to be at our best.”
Lourdes goalie Cassie Gallagher clears the ball after a save during the girls Section 9 MHAL soccer championship game at Wallkill High School in Wallkill,. NY on Thursday, October 20, 2022. Lourdes defeated Mount Academy. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL
The Warriors beat Class A’s New Paltz, 5-0, in the semifinal Tuesday, then dealt Mount Academy, the defending state Class D champion, its first loss this season.
The Eagles had allowed only four goals this season, and that included a few blowouts of title contenders in higher classifications. In beating them handily, Lourdes further solidified its standing.
“They’re a great team and played well, but we did a great job defensively,” Morra said. “I don’t think we’ve seen as much speed at the forwards before. Facing them, it’s an eye-opener about the kind of teams we could see in sectionals.”
Player of the Game
Morra is a prolific scorer who surpassed 100 career points last week, and she has delivered in the clutch several times. After Mount got on the board in the 18th minute, Morra assisted Gigliotti’s tying goal with 3:35 left in the first half, collecting a rebound and sending a pass to the midfielder up the right flank.
Lourdes’ Grace Morra charges down field during the girls Section 9 MHAL soccer championship game at Wallkill High School in Wallkill,. NY on Thursday, October 20, 2022. Lourdes defeated Mount Academy. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL
Ryleigh Calimano scored the go-ahead goal three minutes into the second half, and Morra provided a cushion with a 27-yard blast for the 3-1 lead. Her second goal created the margin with 12:42 remaining.
By the numbers
Mount Academy (15-1) ― Brooke and Hilda Huleatt each had a goal, and Corah Boller made six saves.
Lourdes (14-1) ― Cassie Gallagher had six saves, including three diving stops with the score tied at 1.
Mount Academy faces Eldred in the Section 9 Class D final on Monday, 7:30 p.m. at Middletown High School. Lourdes hosts Ellenville at 2 p.m. Monday in a Class B quarterfinal.
They said it
“The training has been critical to our success and he’s a big part of that,” LaRocca said of assistant coach Eric Seipp. “He’s a soccer guru with a lot of analytical knowledge.”
“Being a No. 1 seed, we want to be as successful as people expect us to be,” Morra said. “But (the MHAL) showed us how much talent there is around. If we aren’t locked in, we know our season can end fast.”
Stephen Haynes: [email protected]; 845-437-4826; Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Section 9 girls soccer: Morra, Gigliotti lead Lourdes to MHAL title