Once they were clicking, there was no stopping them. Rhinebeck boys varsity soccer, which has been lighting teams up all year, blazed through the Section 9 semifinals and then swept the defending champion, Spackenkill, out of the way to take the Class B crown Oct. 31.
A championship win from a three-seed isn’t outrageous, but a championship win from a three-seed that made the jump from Division C to Division B is at least close to it.
The Hawks took and made three shots on the night, two from Seth McClenahan and one from Nick Hoynes, who also scored an assist, and won the game 3-0.
The win sends Rhinebeck into regional semi-final play Nov. 6 against Blind Brook at Arlington.
In the sectional semifinals, Rhinebeck first took advantage of a breezy matchup to beat Fallsburg, 5-0, in a night game at Bard College Oct. 27. It took a whole half for the Hawks to get things moving, however. Fallsburg was actually the first team to make notable offensive moves. A stopped Fallsburg header in the sixth minute led to a long drive for McClenahan, but to no avail. A wild play in the 15th minute, in which three Rhinebeck players skated it past a cadre of Fallsburg defenders, almost resulted in a Rhinebeck goal.
Rhinebeck couldn’t make any magic happen until the final minutes of the half. Hoynes burned downfield on an outlet pass and scored in a one-on-one opportunity against Fallsburg’s goalie, sending Rhinebeck into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
And then things got wild. Rhinebeck came out firing on all cylinders. A pair of missed headers in the 40th and 43rd minutes by Kory Hutchins and Andy Rosenzweig, respectively, were chased by a McClenahan goal in the 48th minute. Rosenzweig made up for his miss just minutes later when he scored on an assist from McClenahan.
Purple simply decided to feed the lead in the waning minutes of the game. McClenahan sank a goal on a corner kick in the 67th minute, unassisted but for the goalie’s arm, and drew some discernible amazement from the crowd. After a yellow card in the box in the 72nd minute, Aiden McKibben-Vaughn scored Rhinebeck’s final goal on a penalty kick and put the Hawks up 5-0.
“I think it just took a little time for them to get their feet underneath them on the different pitch, and once we started to move the ball a little bit things started to open up for us,” Rhinebeck head coach Justin Wisenthal told The Observer.
Rosenzweig, McClenahan, and Hoynes all assisted in the game, and Rhinebeck goalie Eric Rodriguez had an easy night, netting only one save.
With the win, the Hawks advanced to the sectional semifinals, to meet James I. O’Neill Oct. 29.
Purple grabbed that victory, 2-0, with Rosenzweig netting both of the team’s goals in the second half. Rodriguez tallied five saves and McClenahan notched the only assist of the game.
“The common theme for us today was defending. The team really stepped up and defended very well against a pretty good offense, and we were able to find the back of the net two times to secure things,” said Wisenthal of the O’Neill game.
The Hawks improved to 16-2 with the victory, And then met #1 seed Spackenkill in Middletown for the crown.
Wisenthal had the final word on Rhinebeck’s so-far astonishing 2013 season.
“We set our goals high. As we moved forward, we realized that the competition was pretty stiff in B,” he said. “I think that the guys really played above expectations and did a real nice job of getting back to the championship this year, and moving up in the class – and beating the defending Class B sectional champion.”