American Sheagles face the Irvington Vikings
On December 16, 2014, as rain was pouring down on the muddy soccer field, spectators watched silently as Irvington’s player junior Samiksha Alur lined up for a penalty kick that could potentially tie the game at 2-2. After a gritty performance by both teams, American prevailed in their season opener against Irvington, winning 2-1.
Throughout the entire game, Irvington attempted to score goals constantly; however, American did not have many chances to score, but their shots ended up going in the goal.
“They have some very talented players, but I don’t see them connecting as a team like we did,” AHS forward Sheila Naderpour (9) said. “I’m assuming that their mindset during a game is that if you take ten shots, one of them is bound to go in. However, we passed to our teammates, which is how both of our goals were scored. We did not have as many opportunities as they did to score, but we made sure to make them count. I believe that this is what helps a team win; connecting on the field and trusting one another, and that is something Irvington failed to do during that match.”
American found a chance to score a goal as forward Netra Ravishankar (10) ran past the defenders and crossed the ball across the field to the center of the goal, where Naderpour waited to make the first shot. The first half ended with American leading 1-0.
“As soon as I saw my teammate, Netra, cross the ball across the goal, I knew that this might be the only chance we had to win the entire game,” Naderpour said. “As a result, I knew I had to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Unfortunately during the second half of the game, rain poured down hard as goalie Jamie Kennerk (12) dove for the ball. However, Irvington’s midfielder, Kristen Wong (12) succeeded in passing the ball toward her teammate, but the ball was passed toward the corner of the penalty box. Kennerk risked stepping out of her zone to retrieve the ball as forward Kimiya Ganjooi (9) ran towards it, when she suddenly slid the ball away from Kennerk as she dived for the ball. Kennerk fell on the ground, and Ganjooi rolled the ball into the goal with ease.
“I didn’t get mad because it was one-on-one with the player and I did all I could,” Kennerk said. “One-on-ones are pretty hard to stop unless the forward messes up and takes too big of a touch, so I just shook it off. If anything I was upset because she was able to break through all my teammates to get the one-on-one.”
The game heated up as American and Irvington were tied 1-1. Numerous attempts were made by both teams before American made another goal leading 2-1. Defender Neha Pasricha (11) dribbled the ball to the corner of the field and crossed it in toward the center of the field, while forward Naderpour, being in the right position at the right time, smoothly tapped it in the goal. With the use of communication and coordination, Pasricha succeeded in assisting Naderpour in her second goal.
“I honestly didn’t think the ball was going to reach the center of the goal, but I did manage to cross the ball.” Pasricha said. “I didn’t think anything was going to happen, so seeing Sheila right there and tapping the ball into the goal was the best thing ever.”
In the last two minutes of the game, the audience and the coaches were dead silent as there were about seven Irvington players inside American’s goalie box trying to make a goal, while Kennerk attempted to block the ball. As she got a hold of the ball, the whistle blew. The referees gathered for a discussion, calling a penalty on Kennerk because she fell on the ground and pushed a player.
“I did not think the penalty kick was a fair call,” Kennerk said. “There was a lot of chaos in front of the goal, and a girl fell on me. She was laying on my legs and would not move, but the ball was still in play and I could not move with her on me. I did push her off, but the call should have been on her for impeding the goalkeeper.”
As soon as the penalty kick was called, Kennerk and Coach Mappelli argued with the referee and claimed that Kennerk did not push the girl down. The referee did not pay heed to their payments. Kennerk, knowing the penalty kick would either end the game with a tie or a win for American, knelt down on the ground as another Sheagle calmed her down and gave her encouragement. Irvington’s player, Alur, took the penalty kick, kicking the ball towards the top center part of the goal. The game was saved when Kennerk jumped up and punched the ball, hitting the cross bar; American winning with 2-1. After Kennerk blocked the penalty kick, she knelt down on the muddy ground in the rain as her teammate ran to her and hugged her while she was on the ground in relief.
“I just felt a massive blow of relief, because it was definitely an extremely stressful experience,” Kennerk said. “Once the ball was put off play I just fell to my knees overwhelmed with relief and happiness.”