Flag Football Nabs Section Crown in Inaugural Campaign
On Wednesday afternoon, Eastchester athletes made history, capturing the first-ever Section 1 varsity girls flag football championship with a 20-0 win over Scarsdale at Mahopac High School.
In the face of driving rain—and a top-seeded Scarsdale team that had edged the Eagles during the regular season—No. 2 seed Eastchester wasted little time getting things going in the championship game, dominating the Raiders on both sides of the ball and cruising to a shutout victory.
Junior quarterback Michelle Tiso threw for three Eastchester scores—two to Carlie Brien and one to Ava Battista—while Brien also shined on the defensive end, recording two interceptions in a game that saw the Eagles force four Raider turnovers.
Brien said that the inclement weather had little impact on the Eastchester game plan and credited head coach Vito DeBellis and assistant Lowell Robinson with preparing the Eagles for the challenges Scarsdale would present.
“Honestly, I think we play better in the rain; [DeBellis] gave us a very good pep talk, and in the end, we knew we were better and that we could take home the title,” said Brien. “We knew we had the offense, but we knew we had to put in the work on defense to win it.”
Eastchester’s stellar defensive play stemmed from an effective pass rush led by Lakala Beadle. Beadle admitted that the team came into Wednesday’s game with a different intensity than that which they had displayed in their May 8 loss to the Raiders.
“The mindset was completely different,” said Beadle. “Last time, I think we were a little scared and didn’t come out as strong, but today we played like we didn’t have anything to lose, and I think that made a big difference.”
Flag football, which was granted pilot program status by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) last spring, officially became a sanctioned varsity sport this year. Eastchester officially announced its intention to field a team at a Jan. 10 Board of Education Meeting that saw Tiso, Marissa DelBrocco and Sofia Kolndreu thank board members and administrators for their support in getting the program off the ground.
Tiso said that although people might not have known what to expect from the Eagles in their first year of competition, Eastchester’s players and coaches never doubted the team’s ability to contend for a Section 1 crown.
“I knew this was going to be a special group,” Tiso said. “We brought every girl from every sport in our school. The best of the best came to play, and anyone that came to watch us all season knows that we had a bunch of athletes on this field that love football.”
Although there is no tournament to crown a state champion this year, the ride isn’t over for the Eagles just yet. On June 7, Eastchester and Division II small-school winner Lakeland will travel to MetLife Stadium for an end-of-the-year celebration hosted by the New York Giants.
“This is an accomplishment for sure, it’s an accomplishment for everyone,” said Tiso. “It couldn’t have happened without every single girl from top to bottom on this roster coming to practice each day and making it happen.”