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DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. — Based on seedings alone, Pleasantville's 10-8 win over Dobbs Ferry on Friday was an upset.
Of course, the battle-tested Panthers never quite fit the role of an underdog. Instead, No. 18-seeded Pleasantville brought the attitude of a favorite into its Section 1 Class C opener against the No. 2-seeded Eagles.
“We were trying to avoid what people were saying,” sophomore middie Owen Reda said. “We knew that our tough schedule — with seven one-goal losses — was going to payoff in the postseason. I'm just glad we got to be on the other side of a close game today.”
Pleasantville — which improved to 5-13 with the victory — scrapped all season long in Conference III-League B, matching up against the likes of Rye, Byram Hills, Greeley and Fox Lane. Despite dealing with countless injuries and a thin roster to begin with, the Panthers scratched and clawed their way into the postseason. The bumps and bruises have since healed and everything has started to come together at the perfect time.
“They are doing what we have asked them to do, which is peak at the end of the year,” first-year Pleasantville coach Chris Kear said. “We hoped to peak at the absolute best time, which is during sectionals.”
Against Dobbs Ferry, the Panthers wasted little time proving their worth. Reda opened the scoring with 9:57 left in the first quarter, flipping in a clever behind-the-back shot off a feed from Mike Taurone (2G, 2A).
“We drew that play up at practice,” said Reda, who notched two goals overall. “Obviously it wasn't supposed to be behind-the-back, but my angle decreased and I decided to throw it in behind-the-back. We needed something to spark us and it was a big confidence boost for us.”
Pleasantville rode the wave of momentum to a 3-2 first-quarter lead, however, Dobbs Ferry (14-3) battled back in the second quarter to even it at 5-5 heading into halftime.
Coming out of the break, the Panthers elevated their level of play and outscored the Eagles 3-0 in the decisive third quarter.
“At halftime, we got pumped up,” said O'Loughlin, who paced Pleasantville's offense with three goals and an assist. “We knew we had to come out strong and get an early lead and then just hold onto it form there.”
According to Kear, they were able to exploit a flaw in Dobbs Ferry's defense.
“We recognized what (Dobbs Ferry) was doing with their slides and at that point we tried to look to the backside a little more,” Kear said. “We tried to put the ball in the hands of our playmakers and they got it done.”
O'Loughlin and Brendan Halloran (2G, 2A) were the benefactors, combining to score all three of the Panthers' third-quarter goals. O'Loughlin struck first at the 9:12 mark from Halloran. He then setup Halloran at 4:03, followed by an unassisted Halloran goal at 3:35 to cap off the torrid stretch.
Reda, who scooped up a game-high 11 ground balls, went 4 for 5 on faceoffs during the third quarter, helping Pleasantville maintain possession and build a lead. Per usual, he took the majority of the draws on the day and helped the Panthers go 13 for 21 overall.
“Owen has taken 95 percent of our faceoffs this year and he's been a warrior,” Kear said. “He never comes off the field — on offense or defense. He was fantastic today. If it wasn't for him, we probably wouldn't have been in this position.”
For Dobbs Ferry — a second-year program that took big strides in 2012 — the loss boiled down to unforced errors and overall inexperience.
“I think we made too many mental errors throughout the whole course of the game,” Eagles coach Greg Lewis said. “(Pleasantville) capitalized on their opportunities and we missed out on some opportunities. Unfortunately, that's how it turned out.”
Eagles scoring sensation Spencer Avalos netted a game-high four goals and was a major bright spot. The senior attackman finished the year with an impressive 59 goals and 35 assists. According to Lewis, Avalos will try and walk-on next year at the University of Delaware.
“I think he's maybe the most underrated offensive player in Section 1,” Lewis said of Avalos. “He's an absolute diamond in the rough. It's unfortunate that he didn't get more Division 1 looks. He wants to play lacrosse in college. He's one of the best athletes I've had the pleasure of coaching.”
John Yozzo-Scaperrotta (2G), Grant Giglio (1G) and Ryan Moynihan (1G) rounded out the scoring for the Eagles. Goalie Muhammad Hashimi made nine saves.
Pleasantville goalie Christopher Doerr preserved the victory with nine saves, allowing just three-second-half goals.
The Panthers will now travel to No. 7-seeded Kennedy Catholic for a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday. With top teams Bronxville, Byram Hills and Pelham on the other side of the bracket, Pleasantville has a legit chance to go where no other No. 18-seed has before — the sectional finals.
“I think anything is possible right now,” Reda said. “We are going to try and ride this wave as long as possible and go as far as we can.”
Pleasantville 3 2 3 2 10
Dobbs Ferry 2 3 0 3 8
PV (9:57) Owen Reda from Mike Taurone | 1-0 PV
DF (7:49) Spencer Avalos unassisted | 1-1
PV (3:56) Reda from Brendan Halloran | 2-1 PV
PV (0:27) Kyle O'Loughlin unassisted | 3-1 PV
DF (0:15) Avalos from Jimmy Kyreakedes | 3-2 PV
DF (9:50) John Yozzo-Scaperrotta | 3-3
DF (5:30) Avalos unassisted | 4-3 DF
PV (3:46) Taurone unassisted | 4-4
PV (3:18) Taurone unassisted | 5-4 PV
DF (0:02) Grant Giglio unassisted | 5-5
PV (9:12) O'Loughlin from Halloran | 6-5 PV
PV (4:03) Halloran from O'Loughlin | 7-5 PV
PV (3:35) Halloran unassisted | 8-5 PV
DF (9:09) Ryan Moynihan unassisted | 8-6 PV
PV (7:07) Josh Della Puca from Taurone | 9-6 PV
PV (5:28) O'Loughlin unassisted | 10-6 PV
DF (4:36) Yozzo-Scaperrotta unassisted | 10-7 PV
DF (1:22) Avalos unassisted | 10-8 PV
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass