TROY — The Mohonasen girls’ soccer team walked off the Lansingburgh High School field Friday night chanting, ‘MVP, MVP.’
That was for Kyra McCarthy, the junior defender whose dramatic goal made the Mighty Warriors a Section II champion.
“I saw it coming,” McCarthy said after Mohonasen edged Averill Park 1-0 in the Class A final. “We’ve got two minutes and how ever many seconds left. I saw the ball and headed it in.”
McCarthy converted a corner kick by Liv Raucci with 2:38 remaining in the second half, leaping high and popping the ball home near the left post for a goal that kept Mohonasen (No. 1 seed, 19-0) unbeaten and headed toward the state tournament.
“We’ve got a couple of players you don’t hear about,” third-year Mohonasen coach Clint DeMyer said. “I’m so happy she had the opportunity.”
Mohonasen had several opportunities before Friday night’s contest the win an an outright Section II title, but never had. Mohonasen shared the championship with Averill Park in 2016 after the teams played to an overtime tie, lost to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the 2015 final and lost to Scotia-Glenville in a 2017 title tilt.
Last year’s edition bowed out of the tournament with a semifinal setback against Burnt Hills.
“We fell short my first year, and that hurt. Last year, we fell short,” DeMyer said. “This feels so great.”
Raucci said she had a positive feeling as her right-to-left drive neared the pack of players gathered in and around the goal area.
“I saw her [McCarthy] on the far post,” Raucci, a senior, said. “She is one of our most consistent headers. I saw it in the air and I knew it. We were not going OT again with Averill Park.”
The decisive Raucci-to-McCarthy play was set up by a strong sideline run by sophomore Courtney Bush.
“You don’t score on a corner like that unless you’re fearless,” DeMyer said.
Scoring chances were few for both teams as their respective defenses continually made plays in the physical confrontation.
“We hadn’t had a lot of opportunities to test their keeper [Michelina Lombardi],” DeMyer said. “We wanted to get her off her line and make a play.”
McCarthy missed last season with a knee injury, as did senior Alex Skoda. Skoda was the star in Monday’s 4-1 semifinal win over Burnt Hills with three goals.
“When we lost to Burnt Hills [in the 2018 semis], it was devastating,” McCarthy said. “That made us keep pushing and pushing this year.”
Skoda, who hit the right post with a drive in the game’s opening minutes, as well as Raucci and senior Izzy O’Clair were on the 2016 team that won a round of penalty kicks with Averill Park after the teams had tied and moved on to the state tournament. There, Mohonasen lost a sub-regional game to Jamesville-DeWitt.
Mohonasen will make its second state tournament appearance against the Section X champion in a sub-regional game Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Lansingburgh.
Averill Park (No. 3 seed, 11-3-4) won the Section II Class A championship last season.