CBA freshman midfielder Maddie Cook (12) speeds past John Jay-Cross River's Mary McAvey (10) during Friday's state Class B semifinal at SUNY-Cortland. Cook picked up three goals as the Brothers defeated the Indians 17-13.
"We took the ball out of the air too soon," said CBA head coach Doug Sedgwick. "We came out strong, but John Jay didn't quit. Their effort was tremendous and they had a lot of heart."
If any single play was a turning point, it was Poplawski's superb fast-break goal with 26.7 seconds left in the first half, which gave the Brothers a 10-7 lead going to the break, and crucial momentum.
"I just got the ball, and then one girl slid and I got past her," said Poplawski "Then I faked a pass, went the other way and shot the ball in."
Early in the second half, the Brothers regained control. Perla beat a triple team and converted 57 seconds into the second half, and though Hanna Bocklet answered for JJ-CR less than a minute later, Romeo notched her fifth and six goals, with Pitonzo converting in between, to make it 14-8 with 16:44 to play.
The Brothers kept on going, with goals from Cook and Poplawski that pushed the lead to 16-9 and served as a cushion against one more JJ-CR push. The Indians went on a 4-1 run to shrink the gap, but CBA goalie Alea Bonner made a pair of key late stops to secure CBA's state finals berth.
Sedgwick said that solving Brighton's stifling defense is the key to gaining the championship, while Romeo said the wisdom she and several of her veteran teammates gained from the 2011 state final will prove valuable.
"The experience we have is huge," said Romeo. "If we use that experience well, the younger girls will follow suit."