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Lakeland upsets Port Chester in Sectional Final

PURCHASE, N.Y. - Once Lakeland took a quick lead in the Section 1 Class A boys’ soccer title game, Saturday, goalie Steven Reiche and the Hornets’ defense made it hold.

The seventh-seeded Hornets would go on to a 1-0 victory over previously undefeated and top-seeded Port Chester to win the Section 1 Class A championship at Purchase College.

Lakeland, now 14-4-2, won its’ first sectional title since 2004. The Hornets advance to regional play and will face the Section 9 champion at a site, time and date to be determined. Meanwhile, Port Chester concludes its season with a 19-1 record.

Reiche, along with the quartet of Joey Merlino, Chris Monteferante, Rich Gonzalez and Corey Smith, were an impenetrable force for the Hornets. Add in Jon Pinto’s excellent job of shadowing Port Chester forward Kevin Riveros all over the field, and it demonstrates why the Rams were unable to score.

“I knew that as soon as I scored the goal, I knew that we were going to win the game,” said senior captain Sebastian Marquez, who scored 1:14 into the game, heading in a free kick/pass from Gonzalo Prando. “I knew we were going to win because we have one of the best defenses and goalies in the section. Steven has played varsity for four years and he is our leader back there. The team listens to him and he came up big for us.”

When Port Chester pressured Lakeland’s defense, the Hornets repelled the Rams’ advances. Numerous shots and passes were either blocked or in the hands of an active, aggressive Reiche.

“We’ve been a good defensive team the past four years,” said the 6-foot-2 Reiche, who joined his older brother, Eric, a former Lakeland goalie, as a sectional champion. “Today, our defense really stepped it up and played an excellent game. The defense showed a lot of composure and kept it strong, even when Port Chester managed to come inside our 18.”

Each time Port Chester attempted to send a centering pass from the end line, Reiche asserted himself by diving out to grab it or deflect it away. “Coach has always told me that anything within my six-yard box always has to be mine for the taking,” Reiche said. While Reiche was grabbing every loose ball within his grasp, Pinto’s performance contributed to the fine defensive showing. The sophomore was assigned to Riveros and he did not allow Port Chester’s creative force and scoring whiz any free space. Each time Riveros thought he had room to operate, Pinto was right there with him. Lakeland wasted little time in scoring. Before stepping into the free kick, Prando and Marquez made eye contact. Once Marquez saw this, he knew the ball was coming to him. Prando sent the ball from the left side to the center of the box where Marquez headed it in.

“Coach told me before the game that he needed me to step up and score so I wanted to get that goal for us,” Marquez said.

Following the win, Reiche pointed out that Lakeland had the date, 11/5, inscribed on their team shirts. “This is what we have been working for,” Reiche said. “We had this date on our shirts and we were confident that we were going to be here and do it. This is the greatest feeling in the world.”

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