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Port Chester Daily Voice serves Port Chester, NY

Gonzalez Saves Port Chester a Spot in Soccer Final

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Following the first Byram Hills’ penalty kick, which resulted in a goal, Port Chester goalie Jose Gonzalez felt enough was enough.

Gonzalez was aware he would have to face at least four more players in the penalty-kick sequence, which would decide the winner of the Section 1 Class A Boys’ Soccer Championship semifinal, Thursday. “I knew I had to stay focused and I felt I could do it,” Gonzalez said.

The junior made three consecutive saves to secure the victory as top-seeded Port Chester defeated fifth-seeded and two-time defending champion Byram Hills, in penalty kicks, at Purchase College.

The score was even at 1-1 through regulation and the two 15-minute overtime periods.Port Chester will be making its’ first appearance in a sectional final since 2005. The undefeated Rams (19-0) will play the winner of Lakeland-Pelham, 1:30 p.m., Saturday at Purchase.

It was the third time this season that Port Chester beat Byram Hills. Despite the defeat, the Bobcats continued their excellent run. Since 2006, the Bobcats have won four Section 1 Class A titles – 2006, ‘07, 09, 10. In 2008 and now this year, Byram Hills was beaten in the semis on penalty kicks.

The Rams scored on their first three penalty kicks – Felipe Campos, Winston Arroyo and Preston Higgins – to take a 3-1 lead through three rounds. Gonzalez made a diving stop on the fourth Byram Hills’ shooter. Then he ran over the fence, along the sideline, and jumped into a huge throng of cheering alumni and the current Port Chester student body.

His teammates came charging across the field to join the celebration. “It was crazy with all of our fans there,” said Gonzalez, with a smile. “I couldn’t wait to get over there.”

Charlie Murphy opened the penalty-kick portion with a goal for Byram Hills and Campos answered with a score. Gonzalez took over from here, jumping up to deflect the next Byram Hills’ shot off the crossbar. The next two shooters attempted to go right with low, blistering shots, but Gonzalez dove to his left twice to make the save.

“I was looking at the Byram Hills’ players’ foot movement and just reacting as quickly as I could,” Gonzalez said. “This feels amazing to know that we are going to get another chance at a sectional title for Port Chester.”

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