GOSHEN – “She’s a sophomore!” rose the repeated chant as a collective Monroe-Woodbury fans saluted Kate Allen for a remarkable performance usually reserved for older players.
Allen broke a scoreless draw in the 11th minute and then added another goal with two minutes left in regulation as the Crusaders downed Pine Bush 2-0 in the inaugural Section 9 Class AAA championship – this is the first year the state expanded to six classes from five.
Allen came into the title game with just six goals so this was a huge accomplishment.
“She’s getting better as the year goes on,’’ said M-W coach Bill Mpasiakos. “She’s a fantastic player. We knew coming in we had that expectation of her being somebody who’s going to score.’’
Allen’s initial goal was actually the Crusaders’ first foray deep into Pine Bush territory, the Bushmen having dictated the pace and action over the first 10 minutes. On the play, Emily Berlinski raced onto a long pass into the left corner and sent a cross inside to Allen.
“I just saw the ball and the goalie (Grace Druke) in my peripheral vision and I just needed to get a body on that,’’ Allen said.
She said it was a relief to get that goal and give her team a boost.
“In the beginning we were playing by ourselves,’’ Allen said, “and then we finally got a connection.’’
The outcome was not a foregone conclusion as Pine Bush pushed the play in the final minutes. Sometimes the Bushmen ran into a seven-girl defensive wall but on the occasions that Monroe was more spread out, Pine Bush was successful with its approach to rush between the defenders with through balls. One thrust led to a corner kick, and the Bushmen quickly put the ball back in play.
Bucknell-bound goalkeeper Reese Dolan came to the rescue, ignoring the traffic in front of her, elevating and snaring the dangerous ball.
“It was either a goal or my body on the line and I chose my body on the line,’’ Dolan said. “It’s very stressful knowing that the other team has great, great players who can just head it into the back of net so I had to put myself out there.’’
“It felt amazing and I stayed on the ground for as long as possible,’’ Dolan added, knowing the clock was still moving.
This was the first time fifth-ranked Pine Bush (13-2-2) had been shut out this season; the Bushmen recorded at least three goals on 12 occasions with three 9-0 wins to their credit.
By the numbers
Monroe-Woodbury (12-2-2) has won 19 sectional titles: Class A in 1980, 1984, 1986-88, 1999-2001; Class AA in 2007, 2013-19, no tourney in 2020 (COVID), 2021-22; and Class AAA in 2023. … Pine Bush won Class AA in 2005. … The Crusaders beat the Bushmen 4-1 on Sept. 22 and drew 1-1 on Oct. 10. … It was Monroe’s ninth shutout of the season (8-0-1) and tenth multi-goal effort.
They said it
“It never gets old.’’ – Mpasiaskos. The Crusaders have won sectionals every year since he took over in 2016 (and three years before that with Leslie Ahlborn).
2023 tourney: Section 9 girls soccer tournament schedules, results
Sixth-ranked Monroe-Woodbury gets the first-round bye in the state tournament and will host the Nov. 1 winner between Sections 1 and 4 on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Wallkill High School at 12:30 p.m.
Pine Bush will lose eight seniors (six of whom started on Wednesday) but return 15 next season.
X / Twitter: @KenMcMillanTHR
This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Monroe-Woodbury blanks Pine Bush for Section 9-AAA girls soccer title