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SHRUB OAK — The campus at Lakeland High School was decked out with pink on Monday for the inaugural Westchester vs. Rockland Challenge, which raised more than $3,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.
The event featured 10 teams — five from each side of the river — in an all-day boys soccer extravaganza.
“It’s about showcasing Section 1 athletes and getting all of these teams on the same campus in one day,” Lakeland coach and tournament director Tim Hourahan said. “We don’t want this to be a one-year deal; we want this to happen every year. And if we can get other counties involved, that would be awesome.”
It was a clean sweep for Westchester, with Valhalla, Bronxville, Byram Hills, Mamaroneck and Lakeland all prevailing in their respective matches. The teams representing Rockland were Nyack, Tappan Zee, Suffern, North Rockland and Pearl River.
“Westchester has definitely been working its way up to high-end soccer, so we just want to keep it up,” said Byram Hills senior David Lachs, who scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Suffern. “Hopefully, everyone does well in sectionals.”
The idea for the event stemmed from Lakeland’s budding rivalry with Pearl River. Monday marked the fourth consecutive year in which the Hornets played the Pirates, with Lakeland prevailing 2-1.
“(Pearl River coach) Damon (O’Keefe) does a great job, and we’ve played four years in a row on Columbus Day,” Hourahan said before the game. “Hey, they’re the No. 2 team (in the LoHud Class A rankings) right now. They’re 10-1, and we’re 10-3, so it’s the main event tonight. We’ve had some great games — and some great sectional games — against each other.”
The teams that participated in the showcase came into the day with a combined record of 94-33-9, including two unbeatens in Mamaroneck and Byram Hills.
“I knew it was for a good cause and I knew we were playing a good team,” said North Rockland goalkeeper Brendan Madden, who made 15 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss to Mamaroneck. “I was looking forward to it all weekend.”
Before Lakeland played Pearl River in the final game of the day under the lights, Hourahan presented the American Cancer Society with a check for 100 percent of the proceeds from the event.
“As much as I’m proud of putting this schedule together with these games, being able to present that check later tonight is pretty good,” Hourahan said.
“A few months ago we had the idea of, ‘Let’s get some T-shirts,’ and it kind of really just took off. We pre-sold 300 T-shirts. Every team is wearing these black T-shirts for their warmup shirts, and even the referees got on board and bought 10 shirts.”
Photos and video by Ricky Flores/The Journal News