Riverdale lacks finishing touch against Poly Prep

Riverdale’s Justin Miller dribbles the ball up field against Poly Prep.
Photo by Joseph Staszewski

Andrew FitzGerald isn’t concerned about what a third league loss does for this team’s chances of winning an Ivy League title. The coach is more worried about his young team reacts and learns from it.

He held a long team meeting after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of host Poly Prep in Bay Ridge last Wednesday. When he was done, the players lingered a little longer to talk about how things need to improve moving forward for the defending NYSAISAA boys’ soccer champions.

“If anything as you see here it brings us back down to earth,” FitzGerald said. “We regroup. We like the growth mindset. If anything this is going to give these kids more stimulus to produce.”

FitzGerald pointed to a chance early in the second half that his team didn’t put away.

Casey Schnell crossed the ball into the box. It was deflected by George Harvey and Andrew Cohen it the top of crossbar with a shot in the 44th minute. A goal makes it’s a much different game against a Poly Prep team it beat 2-1 early this year.

“Scoring that goal puts Poly on its heels,” FitzGerald said.

His club, which out played Poly (9–1–0, 7–1–0) in the first half, tried to force things offensively or was waiting for an ideal chance instead of letting the game come to them. Riverdale (6–3–1, 4-3-1) peppered Blue Devils keeper Nicholas Mulitz, who rarely posed a serious threat. It had an opportunity to tie late, when Justin Miller deflected a throw in to the near post, but Mulitz was there to save it.

“We are trying to push people up forward,” Miller said “It’s not going to come nicely. It is not going to come perfectly. You really have to take any opportunity you have to score.”

Poly made the most of its chances. Senior Luke Barry scored on a 30-yard strike to the lower left corner in the 63rd minute to make it 1-0. Jack Hurkmans’s tally in the 78th minute made it 2-0. FitzGerald said a few breakdowns on his team’s part opened the door for Poly to score.

Riverdale sees the defeat as sign of how hard and smart it needs to play if it wants to repeat as state champions.

“We need to stopping putting ourselves on cruise control” Miller said. “It’s not going to come easy just because we won last year.”

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