SALAMANCA — Tyra Clark always had an answer Wednesday afternoon for the Randolph girls soccer team.
Clark, a sophomore forward for the Cardinals, scored three goals in a Section 6 Class C first round playoff game at Salamanca. Each of Clark’s goals gave the Cardinals a lead at the time, until the last one, with 1:20 remaining in regulation, was enough for No. 10 Randolph to upset the No. 7 Warriors, 4-3.
Clark leads Randolph with 16 goals on the season.
“That’s happened throughout the season and she never lets up,” Cardinals coach Alexa Troutman said of Clark scoring big goals. “She has so much heart and grit, which is so important to our team, and that keeps her going until the final whistle.”
Randolph advances to visit No. 2 Portville in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Savannah Rhodes also scored for Randolph as the teams traded goals in the first eight minutes after Mariah Downey briefly gave Salamanca a 1-0 lead. Clark’s first goal in the 23th minute the Cardinals a 2-1 lead through halftime.
Salamanca broke through just 19 seconds into the second half on a Sharee Armstrong goal, her first of the season.
The 2-2 tie held for most of the half, until Clark again put Randolph ahead with 4:17 left with a header off a corner kick. But Salamanca’s Rachel Chamberlain tied it again, 3-3, scoring off a direct kick rebound with 3:31 to go.
Valerie Crouse had three assists for Randolph and Natalie Philp assisted on the game-winner. Miranda Waterman made 13 saves in net for the Cardinals (6-10-1).
“Our team never let up,” Troutman said. “This team wants to go far, this team has heart, so we talked about it at halftime, ‘This is going to be a battle the whole game, from start to finish.’ We saw on the field not one person let up throughout the whole game. So I’m extremely proud of them.”
Ryleigh John, Downey and Aly Hill assisted on Downey, Armstrong and Chamberlain’s goals, respectively for the Warriors (9-8). Coach Michelle Hill praised her team’s resiliency, but acknowledged Salamanca didn’t play up to its abilities on Wednesday.
“The girls haven’t given up all season,” Salamanca coach Michelle Hill said. “They’re Warriors, they battle through everything, even when we’re not at our best and unfortunately we weren’t at our best today, and that’s not to take anything away from Randolph. They came out and they played to win and passed well and played outstandingly and they did earn the win tonight.
“Unfortunately we were very inconsistent in our play. We have some great moments, and then we had a lot of not-so-great moments and inconsistency definitely was our Achilles’ Heel tonight.”
Randolph and Salamanca split the regular season, with the Cardinals winning 3-2 at home, then the Warriors winning 4-0.
“The second matchup, we actually played the way we’re capable of playing, and connecting passes and playing a possession game,” Hill said. “We really didn’t string together passes today and that’s what hurt. Randolph is a team that battles to the end as well, always has been, and there’s always been a rivalry between those two teams, so it certainly was a battle from the beginning whistle to the end with the back and forth.”
Facing a league opponent for a third time, having success in one of those matchups, gave Troutman’s team confidence headed into the road playoff game.
“If we played our best (we knew we could win) — and we’ve been playing our best at the end of the season, our last couple of games have been our best games,” she said. “So that gave us confidence going into (the game), regardless of our seed, regardless of our record. We’ve improved immensely over the past couple games and throughout the season, so we were prepared for this game mentally and in terms of just field positioning, we knew what we were coming against and how to play against them.”
Salamanca’s season ended earlier than the team had hoped. But the Warriors still took a big step forward, from one win in 2017 and five in 2018 to nine this fall.
“There have been tremendous improvements, even the players that didn't get to set foot on the pitch,” Hill said. “The improvement they've made from our preseason — actually we had some summer sessions, we started our season at midnight on opening day — the improvement from everyone has been phenomenal. So in that respect we've had an incredibly successful season. It's just really disappointing because we know we're a better team than the team that played on the field tonight.”