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Arlington’s chances were piling up, but Saturday’s Class AA state semifinal remained scoreless after the first half.
“We were getting a little nervous,” Arlington midfielder Miranda Tarpey said. “We didn’t want them to get a lucky goal and then regret all of the opportunities we missed.”
The midfielder took it upon herself to make sure it wouldn’t be a long bus ride back to LaGrangeville.
Tarpey set up Allie Pushkarsh for the game’s only goal in the 44th minute. Arlington knocked off Section 2's Bethlehem 1-0 at Homer High School to advance to the state championship game for the first time in school history.
“We’re excited,” Arlington coach Kieran McIlvenny said. “It’s nice to have this opportunity.”
Arlington (19-2-1) started off slow and played defense for most of the first ten minutes. But once the Admirals spotted a weakness in their opponent’s defense, the offense started to click.
“The first time we went outside, we realized we could beat them wide,” Pushkarsh said. “Once we started to capitalize on that option, the spark was there.”
The Admirals held a 10-0 shot advantage at halftime and ended the game with an astounding 16-0 edge. It took only one shot in the second half to finally put one away.
Tarpey received the ball near midfield and beat her defender down the right sideline. Just shy of the end line, the senior centered the ball in front of the net. Pushkarsh gathered the crossing pass and placed it in the back of the net.
“We knew what we had to do,” Tarpey said. “We just finally executed it.”
Arlington fended off a late push by Bethlehem in the final five minutes. The Eagles’ crowd erupted every time the ball traveled into the offensive zone, but the Admirals quickly closed off any opportunities.
“We have a platoon of players that are playing awesome defense,” McIlvenny said. “We’ve found a formula that works and the players support each other.”
Junior goalkeeper Katie Nickles, a Division I prospect, made nine saves for Bethlehem (15-4-2). The Eagles are the four-time reigning Section 2 champions.
The championship game is Sunday at SUNY Cortland at 12:00pm against either Section 8’s MacArthur.
It’s a quick turnaround, but Arlington seems to be playing its best soccer of the season, posting shutouts in its last three matches.
“We know we can do this. This is our year,” Pushkarsh said. “We’ve put in so much work throughout the season. Nothing is going to stop us now.”
Email David Resnick at email@example.com