Amaris Hemmings is one of four players who were freshmen on the last Riverdale team to bring home the girls’ soccer crown. They have just one crack left at leaving the school with a championship to call their own.
“Of course we want our own,” said Hemmings, the team’s leading scorer. “This is our last chance. That’s in the back of our minds. We all want it.”
This is the year to do it.
Riverdale lost just two starters to graduation and returns 16 players from a team that lost to Holy Child 2-1 in overtime in last year’s final. The Falcons rode a 14-game unbeaten streak into that match. All of that will have other teams viewing them as the team to knock off this season and they are just fine with that.
“It’s tricky having a target on your back all the time, but it’s nice to know that everyone is out to beat us,” senior goalie Jennifer Kronish said. “It’s ours to lose.”
To do so Hemmings will need help scoring at forward. The speedster, who had 12 goals and eight assists last season, often has to fight double teams to make things happen. She expects to be aided by Natasha Lowitt and freshman Katherine Maoresano, who has shown a knack for finding the back of the net in the preseason. Hemmings has proven she can carry a team however.
“You can kick the ball 50 yards away from her and she will be there in two seconds,” Kronish said. “She’s faster than anyone. That’s not a question. We give her the ball and we know something good is going to happen.”
The Falcons should draw plenty of strength from its midfield, which is anchored by senior Courtney Taylor. Classmate Sarah Tiffany will move from defense into the midfield to help control play. Julia Hyman, Amanda Schnell and Julia Gardner, who appears to be coming into her own, will make up a strong backline. The 6-foot-1 Kronish has matured into one of the city’s top keepers and should make goals hard to come by for Riverdale opponents.
“We have a very solid defense with those girls,” Falcons coach Orlando Osorio said.
Riverdale has the experience and enough talent to make a run at a state title, but understand I won’t be handed to them. The Falcons will use the memory last year’s championship game defeat to push them throughout the season.
“Losing hurt us,” Hemmings said. “It was tough. This year we are coming back with a vengeance trying to get to the finals again, but we are taking it one game at time.”