Simmons Rockwell Southern Tier Sports ReportGuthrie Sports Med TRAVELING PORTRAITS Blaise AlexanderColdiron


Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
HORSEHEADS — As the clock hit zero the smiles widened and the players leapt into each other’s arms.

It had been an emotional night. The Horseheads Blue Raiders had remembered the life of one of their former players, and they got their first chance to play under the lights in their new stadium.

A night full of emotions ended with a Horseheads win as a Tess Eisner goal midway through the first of the two 10 minutes of overtime gave the Blue Raiders a 1-0 victory.

Monday’s game capped three days of events to launch the new stadium. The football team won on Friday, the boys’ soccer team won on Saturday and the girls capped the weekend with a win on Monday.

“We really wanted to win it to open this field for our varsity and JV soccer season,” Tess Eisner said. “It’s a really good way to close the weekend with three winds for sports.”

To add to the emotion of the weekend the team celebrated the life of 2020 graduate Miranda Novitsky. The former Horseheads star died in a car accident in July. The team wore jerseys with angel wins and her initials on them, and they did a donation table to raise money for a scholarship fund in her name. (Look Tuesday for more on this).

The Blue Raiders entered the game looking for their first win, while Corning entered 2-0. However, the Blue Raiders came out aggressive right from the start.

“That’s why I was super nervous,” goalie Ashley Friend said of facing Corning. “I heard all the rumors (about the Hawks). It was the new stadium I guess that helped us out.”

Corning had the edge in shots and corners in the game, but Friend made some big saves to keep the Hawks off the board.

In the first half Gillian Mason, whose direct kick beat Maine-Endwell, had a direct kick that forced Friend to leap up to the cross bar to make the save.

A few minutes later Corning took a long shot that took a huge hop on the turf and again Friend leapt int he air to make the save.

The turf definitely made for some quick bounces on shots, but it was something Friend got used too quickly.

“It definitely does,” Friend said of the turf leading to different bounces. “It was super fun, but also completely nerve wracking.”

Corning’s goalie Rukma Chaudbury had to slide out and make a save as Eisner leapt over her.

Neither team was able to score in regulation, sending the game to overtime.

In overtime a direct kick had the ball bounce around in front of the Corning net. The ball took a bounce and it came right to the feet of Eisner, who buried it to give the Blue Raiders the win.

“I saw the ball come in and it rebounded and I was just there,” Eisner said. “It was really good timing and I just stuck my foot out.

“It kind of didn’t even register until after I kicked it in, it was like ‘oh my gosh, I just did that,’ I didn’t even think about it in the moment.”

For Eisner the goal was just instinct as the ball bounced right toward her. That helped to take some nerves off as Eisner didn’t think much, she just reacted.

“Less to overthink on and make yourself mess up on something that should be easy,” Eisner said.

With the lead it was up to Friend and the Horseheads defense to keep the Blue Raiders ahead.

“I was praying, I was doing everything I could to keep this win for us,” Friend said.

The Horseheads goalie knew she had a strong defense in front over her.

“They were definitely a leading component to this win, everyone really helped out,” Friend said.

The Hawks really went on the attack the final 10 minutes of the game, however, the Blue Raiders matched that intensity down the stretch.

“After you get a goal you just have to keep your head up,” Eisner said. “Whether you are winning, or losing, you keep playing with that same intensity.”

After watching the football team and boys’ soccer team win at the stadium, the girls knew it was their turn.

“It was a little stressful, but I think it gave us some confidence,” Eisner said of watching the other teams play. “We knew we had to keep our heads up and keep playing and we could get the win.”

“It’s pretty amazing,” Friend said of the win. “It was so much fun. I was super nervous, but it was all worth it at the end.”

Horseheads coach Lee Spencer knew there was some pressure on his team in the first game on the new field, but he also saw how his team rose to the challenge.

“There was a lot of pressure on us,” Spencer said. “There was a lot of pressure, but they responded well and played what I think was the best game they played all year. We got the goal when we needed it.”

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