By Mike Dougherty
MIDDLETOWN – There was no room to breathe.
Pleasantville was a bit overwhelmed in the opening minutes of a NYSPHSAA Class C semifinal and struggled to match up with Cold Spring Harbor the entire way. An early deficit only increased the pressure on the Panthers, and the best season in program history came to an end Thursday with a 14-4 loss to the Long Island champion at Middletown High School.
If nothing else, it was a memorable experience.
“They were much better than I expected,” Pleasantville close defender Jack Drillock said. “I saw a little film on them, but they came out firing and had so many playmakers. They see the open guy and make the extra pass like no team we’d seen before. We definitely had to play our best game of the season and we didn’t. We fought the whole game, but we couldn’t make enough plays.”
Winning face offs was the first issue.
Ryan Winkoff scored a minute in to get the Seahawks in front and they added two more in short order, taking a 3-0 lead with 7:30 to go in the first. Time of possession was lopsided. The Panthers were in such a hurry to make something happen they promptly threw a couple of possessions away.
And they had no answer for Matt Licciardi who won 10 consecutive face offs in the opening half.
“That was the first Long Island team we’ve seen in program history, so it was a bit of a shock,” Pleasantville midfielder Josh Della Puca said after scoring three goals. “We need to get this program up to their level, and hopefully we do that someday. When we got on offense we really got impatient, myself included. I was trying early to get an impact goal to get my teammates going and get the fans into the game, but it never came.”
Bryan Arcidiacano did finally get a the Panthers on the board, taking a pass from Brian Reda and scoring with three seconds to play in the quarter.
Cold Spring Harbor made a few adjustments in the second, played very methodically and built an 8-1 halftime lead.
“The real killer to me was losing every single face off in the first half so the offense can’t get in a rhythm and they start to panic a little bit when we get the ball knowing it’s a really important possession,” Pleasantville coach Chris Kear said. “It puts a lot of pressure on you. We threw every defensive look we could at them and eventually they would adjust. Their passes were pinpoint. Their shots were pinpoint. It’s just a very good team and there’s not a whole lot you can do with that.”