As reported earlier, Chris Metz, a member of the Edge Athletics 16u East team, was the only sophomore to be selected to play on the Empire State Hudson Valley Soccer team. Chris scored a goal during the week competition and helped propel his team to the gold medal.
From the Poughkeepsie Journal…..
GETZVILLE — The soccer ball took an indirect route and found its way to unfamiliar territory in the 72nd minute of Sunday’s gold-medal match: The back of the New York City net.
Once it crossed the line, Patrick Noonan embraced his teammates — some of whom he knew well before the Empire State Games and others he didn’t — as he slid on both knees to the left corner in complete joy.
Noonan’s shot from 18 yards out in the box snapped a scoreless tie and sent Hudson Valley’s scholastic men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over New York City at the Amherst French Road Soccer Complex. For the Hyde Park resident, the results couldn’t have been sweeter.
“Luckily, it just bounced to me at the top of the 18,” said Noonan, who attends Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. “I knew that 65 days of training came down to that one moment. I hit it as hard as I could right down into the net.”
Noonan’s ball deflected off a New York City defender before going over goalkeeper Christopher Herrera’s left shoulder for the game’s only score.
“It’s still a goal,” Noonan said, laughing. “It’s probably the best feeling of my life. I won it for the team.”
Noonan’s score was the only goal New York City allowed in the tournament, as the team finished 3-1. Hudson Valley finished 3-0-1.
This was Hudson Valley’s second-straight gold medal and ninth since the Games started in 1978.
Getting the team to come together was a task coach Tim Hourahan didn’t take lightly. At the start of camp, he had players introduce themselves to each other. After a week of team building at the United States Military Academy at West Point, things started to come together.
“It was more than just becoming great soccer players,” said Hourahan, the boys varsity coach at Lakeland High School. “It was about becoming a team and being united and having one focus and one goal.”
The team even came up with a mascot name, since it did not have one. “Snow goons!” was what they yelled out after huddles. No one on the Valley sideline could explain its origin, other than it might have been a local hip-hop reference
“Our only mission was to win a gold medal,” Hourahan said. “These kids dug deep. They just wanted to win so badly and they found a way.”
Play was tight in the first half as New York City played a defensive game with a formation that had one forward. The shots on goal at halftime — Hudson Valley, 3, New York City 2 — indicated the type of challenge Hudson Valley was in for.
In the second half, Hudson Valley hit two crossbars. Again, there weren’t many shots, two for Hudson Valley and one for New York City, but one shot decided the game.
“It was a tough game. We knew they were going to be hard,” said Christian Dominguez of Suffern. “We just gave it all we could. It means a lot to me. I’ve never been in a championship game like this. It feels great. It’s indescribable.”
“It’s awesome,” said Chris Metz of Hopewell Junction, who plays soccer at Our Lady of Lourdes. “We’re never going to be on the same team again, but we’ll remember this the rest of our lives. We came together as a team quicker than all the other teams.”
Hourahan said he knows some of the players will continue local rivalries, and some of them will play against his Lakeland team. But they will still have this moment when Hudson Valley was the superior team in men’s scholastic soccer.
In addition to Noonan and Metz, seven other players were local products: Matt Daeumer (Wappingers Falls), Matt Garcia (Wappingers Falls), Matt Koziol (Poughkeepsie), Tim Ryan (Poughquag), Codey Stetler (Hopewell Junction), Conor Tasciotti (Poughkeepsie) and J.P. Veliz (Wappingers Falls).
“They’re all going to go on and have great high school careers and great soccer careers,” Hourahan said. “I’m proud of them.”