The Massey Ratings were on point after all.
The system used by college football based on overall record, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition, which the NYSAISAA adopted this year for seeding instead of a committee, slotted Rye Country Day School first for the private boys soccer say tournament, somewhat surprising since the Ivy Prep League winner is often on top.
But after Thursday’s 1-0 win over No. 4 Poly Prep, Rye is in Sunday’s final, opposite third-seeded Collegiate, at noon at Manhattanville College in Purchase.
“We really didn’t have anything to prove as far as seeding,” Rye coach Cristiano Pereira said. “We had more to prove to ourselves that we can be a team to be in the final of the tournament. That was our goal in the beginning of the season.”
Rye (13-2-0) has battled for both of its wins, coming from behind to top No. 8 Lycee Francais in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. Anthony Faustini’s 10th-minute tally stood up against Poly Prep on Friday, thanks to the exceptional play of keeper Jon Karp (nine saves) and a strong back line featuring Ignacia De Lera, Joey Rosengard, Tommy Garry and Alex Gendelman.
“It’s all about competing, and not conceding,” stated Pereira, who is in his sixth year at Rye. “We’ve scored in every game this season. I know we’ll be able to score goals. If we can do that and do what we need to do defensively, we always have a chance to win. That’s why I haven’t been surprised by what we’ve done this year.”
Pereira has been somewhat caught off guard by the Wildcats’ technical skill. A huge part of Rye’s team, at least the upperclassmen, are three-sport stars whose ideal sport isn’t even soccer. Yet the team’s strength, in addition to its defense, is playing a possession style.
“We’re successful because we move the ball as a team and we move it quickly,” the coach said. “A lot of teams we play against are very physical, kicking the ball forward, chasing the ball down. We try to keep it on the ground and play around them.”
He added: “This whole season has been great because the children have reached their potential.”
Pereira is pleased Rye will face Collegiate, a 4-3 winner over No. 2 Horace Mann on Friday in the other semifinal. The Dutchmen topped Rye in the first round of last year’s NYSAISAA tournament en route to the title. The two teams scrimmaged in early September, with Rye prevailing, 1-0.
“My thought is that it’s fate – its fate we’re playing them again,” Pereira said. “I wouldn’t have written it any better if I was a writer.”
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