Those threats over at Hendrick Hudson High School this week ruining more than just Wednesday’s Section 1 Class B semifinal; it completely changed the remainder of the section tournament schedule.
Instead of playing at 7:30 p.m., after the Class B final, the Class C final between No. 1 Dobbs Ferry and No. 3 Westlake will be played at 6 p.m. today, while the site remains at John Jay-Cross River High School. Now, I predicted Dobbs Ferry to win it all before the tournament began; I predicted it to win in September; and if I can ever find the tweet that I posted in the summer, I’ll link it, but I also predicted it to win it all in the summer; but the Eagles still have their work cut out for them.
The defending champion Eagles go up against a relentless Westlake squad that swept them in the final match of the regular season. Granted, Dobbs Ferry hitter Caty Perry did not play in that match, but a sweep is still a significant win. Perry is expected to be back in the lineup Friday, and, oddly enough, so is junior setter Alexis Demitrovic.
Less than a day after Eagles coach Patty Duane confirmed to me that she is out for the season with a bone chip in her ankle, a source with knowledge of the situation told me that Demitrovic received a second opinion Thursday and is cleared to play for the title bout. Demitrovic is a prolific player and an absolute game-changer on the court; her presence can make or break a match for Dobbs Ferry. Until hearing that news, I was ready to predict Westlake for the win today, given the changed circumstances.
We still don’t know for sure how healthy her ankle is, but if she was able to play through it on Monday, has had days to rest it and received a second opinion, odds are that she will be a prominent factor on Friday. Personally, I think the loss to Westlake was the best thing to ever happen to Dobbs Ferry, a team that went undefeated during the regular season last year. It showed the team that they are beatable, and that they are not — despite what their record against Section 1 opponents last year showed — perfect. And that’s OK. Few teams are truly perfect. Even the legendary Hen Hud teams from the mid-2000s, who won state titles without dropping a match, surely had flaws.
Dobbs Ferry was mopped by Ardsley earlier in the year, but that was to be expected. Dobbs Ferry was not expected to lose to Westlake, let alone get swept. I think the loss give the Eagles added motivation to win today — on top of defending their title. The Wildcats are a gritty, scrappy bunch, who are looking to prove that the regular-season match was no fluke. Coach Carmen Bates has taken teams to the state semifinals before, so obviously she knows how to win a section title.
Today’s match should be fun, and emotional. Assuming Demitrovic does play and that she is anywhere around 75 percent or better, I’m sticking with my preseason prediction and saying that Dobbs Ferry repeats as Section 1 Class C champions, winning in four games, 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 27-25.
(Editor’s note: I was informed Thursday night that Dobbs Ferry coach Patty Duane’s father passed away on Wednesday. The Journal News would like to extend our deepest sympathies to coach Duane and her family and ask that any and all spectators who will be attending the match please remember that — regardless whether your team wins or loses — it’s just a game. Duane is expected to coach today, which I can only imagine will be emotional, in more ways than one.)
#FunFactFriday: It’s Halloween — how could there not be a “Thriller” reference to today’s fun fact? Five years ago, when I was attending Rockland Community College (yes, I’m showing my age here, I know), I signed up to do the opening dance number for the RCC -TV Film Festival, which was “Thriller.” A bunch of us put on face paint, fake blood, ripped clothes, etc., but the fun fact is that my nose was actually bleeding during the performance. Not my finest hour, or dance moves, but you can enjoy my embarrassing moment to start your day… if you can find me. *Vincent Price laugh* I promise, my moonwalk is much better.