Taylor O’Gara took off downfield in the second half as the cool and slightly foggy mist permeated the air around the Aviator Sports Complex Thursday afternoon.
Curtis was holding onto a one-goal lead in the second half in a back-and forth affair and the high scoring midfielder had one purpose as she sprinted past a host of Midwood defenders.
“It only takes one goal to get the morale back,” O’Gara said. “If you’re playing hard and sprinting, that would translate to the whole team."
O’Gara finished her 60-yard dash with one of her six goals as the Warriors produced a solid 12-8 victory over Midwood in Brooklyn.
The win was an important one for Curtis, which came into the day tied with Midwood for second place in the PSAL Championship division. Agnieszka Buczek and Nicole O’Gara each added two goals for the Warriors (10-3), who can clinch second place in the playoffs with a win in their regular season finale at Tottenville Tuesday.
The six-goal output by Taylor O’Gara, who remains the PSAL’s leading scorer with a total of 72, was vital, but it wasn’t the entire story.
It was a week which Curtis responded positively after coach Matt Gonzalez said the team sleepwalked in an 11-8 loss to Cardozo Monday. The Warriors rallied the next day with a 12-7 victory over the Judges and kept their poise in the second half Thursday when a 4-3 halftime lead disappeared just minutes into the second half.
“Midwood is a very aggressive team,” Taylor O’Gara said. “We played strong, and not worrying about the refs calls or anything that goes our way. We kept up our heads up and that’s what worked today.”
Moriam Soetan lifted the Hornets back into the lead in the second half with three straight goals to make it 6-5. Taylor O’Gara and Rachael Cusick then responded to give Curtis the lead again at 7-6, but attacker Tianna Chin tied the score with 12:53 remaining with a wraparound goal.
Curtis began to tighten up defensively and fended off the Midwood attackers at that point. Buczek responded with 9:16 left in the game to put the Warriors up 8-7, and just a minute later, midfielder Acacia Metz scored to make it a two-goal lead with 8:10 left.
Soetan scored her fifth goal with 7:53 remaining to make it 9-8. Taylor O’Gara responded just 14 seconds after the faceoff by pushing past three defenders to give Curtis a two-goal and finished off her long downfield run to seal the win with 5:01 to go.
“The silly mistakes we cleaned up, not getting the ground balls, making the passes,” Gonzalez said. “They took the lead in the second half but we answered. It was about keeping confidence. Taylor is a great player, but everybody steps up. Casey, Nicole has been good for us, we need everyone to contribute.”
Curtis holds its own destiny to secure a home playoff game with a win against Tottenville. The Warriors handed the Pirates their only league loss with an 11-9 win on April 5.
Midwood coach Paul Chakrian can’t say the same for his team, at least for now. The Hornets (9-4) could tie for second place if they beat Stuyvesant at home Tuesday and Curtis loses at Tottenville. But tiebreaking procedures at the end of the season could conceivably give second place to Curtis, and Midwood would lose a vital home advantage later in the postseason.
“If we win, and they beat Tottenville, they’ll take second place and it won’t be good at us,” Chakrian said. “We had a chance to take our destiny in our whole hands, but that’s the way it goes.”