Just after his penalty kick beat Mamaroneck keeper Dante Rhodes to give his Huguenots a playoff win over the top-ranked soccer team in New York state, New Rochelle’s Felipe Tobon sank down to the pitch, and put his hands on his head with tears welling in his eyes. As a wild scene unfolded at Mamaroneck High School, Tobon knew he would be crushed under a rush of exuberant teammates and fans eager to celebrate New Rochelle’s unlikely victory over a juggernaut Tiger team; but for a few short moments, the Huguenots’ biggest moment of the season belonged solely to the junior defender.
“Did you see me?” he asked with a grin after the game. “I think I got a little emotional out there.”
Tobon’s game-winner came after 80 minutes of regulation, two 15-minute overtime periods and four rounds of penalty kicks. As soon as Mamaroneck captain Jack Spiradellis fired high to begin the fifth round, Tobon knew that he would have a chance to send the Huguenots to the Class AA semifinals; and he did just that, firing a low, hard shot into the bottom right corner of the net to give the Huguenots a 4-3 edge.
“I wanted to be in that position, I wanted to go last,” Tobon said. “I knew the fifth kick had the most pressure and I tried to keep a calm head, but I was nervous. But I knew my teammates were there backing me up.”
The two squads battled to a one-goal draw over the course of regulation, with New Rochelle jumping out to a lead in the 46th minute on a long direct kick from Javier Amezcua.
“I did my job, I put the kick on the back post,” Amezcua said. “I guess I just got lucky and it went in.”
Amezcua’s goal seemed to wake up Mamaroneck’s attack, however, as the Tigers proceeded to take control of the game late in the second half, finding the equalizer on a beautiful header by Alex Alma in the 69th minute.
From there, Amezcua explained, it was up to the Huguenots to dig deep and regroup, which they did for the next 41 minutes, holding Mamaroneck scoreless.
“I honestly felt that our intensity was dropping for whatever reason,” he said. “I don’t know why it was, but it was lacking so me and some of my teammates, we were just trying to pick it up.”
With the win, New Rochelle advances to the Class AA semifinals, where they will play another league foe in Scarsdale on Oct. 26, after press time. Although he believes a win over the Tigers will be a great confidence boost, Amezcua said that, for now, the team’s focus will simply be on the next contest.
“[Mamaroneck] was a hell of a team, and they earned their spot as number one,” he said. “But we haven’t won anything yet; the win was great, the feeling was great, but we’ve still got work to do.”