MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Preston Higgins made eye contact with teammate Alexis Valdovinos once the free kick was granted, and the collaboration between the Port Chester teammates resulted in a magic moment.
Higgins went skyward and headed in the Valdovinos pass with 6:06 remaning in overtime, sending Port Chester to a 2-1 victory over Fowler (Section 3) Saturday in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Boys’ Soccer Class A semifinal at Middletown High School.
Port Chester will play Section 8 titlist Jericho in the championship game at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. This is Port Chester’s first appearance in a boys’ state final.
“It feels great to be the player to score the clutch goal,” Higgins said.
Higgins’ goal was appropriate because Port Chester, now 19-1-2, dominated the second half and overtime. The Rams had at least a dozen scoring chances in the second half and overtime combined, only to have a shot sail wideor Fowler’s defense block a shot.
Valdovinos set up on the left wing at the 35-yard line and stepped into a pass that was targeted for the far post. Higgins, who will go right to basketball practice once soccer season concludes, had a step on the Fowler defender and his header evaded Fowler goalie Abdullah Abdul-Kareem.
“We’ve been playing together for years, so as soon Alexis had the ball, I screamed his name,” Higgins said. “Once he got me the ball, I was going to capitalize it. “I gave it a little extra speed to the right and their defender was in no position to provide the coverage.”
Prior to overtime, Port Chester coach John Cafaldo encouraged his team to continue pressuring Fowler.
“The whole game, especially in the second half, we kept the pressure on them so coach told us to come out strong and finish,” said Ribeiro, who scored in the first half to even the score. “We were frustrated, but we kept our heads up. We knew we were going to score a goal and it happened.”
Ribeiro watched the play develop and was convinced how it would end.
“Once I saw Preston go up for the header, I knew he was scoring a goal,” Ribeiro said.
A Port Chester win Sunday would give the Rams their first boys’ soccer state title.
“Our town and fans have shown us great support so we are hoping to make history,” Higgins said.
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