Oct 17, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
It took the full course of the regular season for the Skaneateles boys soccer team to finally get topped — and it took the team’s biggest rival to pull it off.
Marcellus, frustrated for years in its attempts to beat the Lakers, did so Monday night on its own home turf, pulling out a scintillating 2-1 decision that vaulted the Mustangs into first place in the OHSL Liberty division and ended the Lakers’ 14-game unbeaten streak.
The deep feelings of this rivalry grew even deeper in 2004. In the regular season, Skaneateles beat Marcellus once and tied the Mustangs in the other head-to-head meeting. But the Lakers were knocked out early in the Section III Class B playoffs — and Marcellus went on to win a state championship.
When they reunited on Sept. 5, Skaneateles dominated the flow of play and won easily, 4-1, exposing a raw and inexperienced Marcellus defense still trying to replace all the vital parts from its ’04 title run.
As the Lakers rolled along, the Mustangs got healthy and got organized, then started to win with regularity. All the while, it lusted to finally beat their neighbors — but a chance to do so Sept. 28 got rained out.
The 18-day delay only added to the game’s importance. As the night began, Skaneateles was 8-0-1 in league play, Marcellus 8-1. They had pulled away from the rest of the Liberty division field. Now, it was time to settle things.
But the first half settled nothing, except the fact that the Mustangs’ defense fared much better in handling the vaunted Skaneateles attack. Head coach Jennifer Griffin said that back-line players Brian Walter, Pat Delaney and Tom Forte stood out in deflecting away the numerous Laker assaults.
In the 21st minute, Skaneateles earned a free kick on the right side. Jesse Carr bent it beautifully — but the shot hit the right post. At the break, it was 0-0.
So it remained well into the second half. Much of the Mustangs’ attack involved Alex Rouse or Kevin Merriman making long runs into the Lakers’ end, only to get thwarted by quick Laker defenders like Tim Hosie, Erich Pingel and Nick Trapani.
Still, Marcellus kept pushing, and it paid off in the 60th minute. From the left side, John Kermes crossed — and Rouse nudged a header that eluded Andrew Hamilton and found the net, putting the Mustangs ahead, 1-0.
This only made the Lakers push harder, and that would pay off, too. With 12:48 to play, Greg Stucker, working on the left, crossed to Devin Lynch, and Lynch’s shot sneaked just inside the right post to tie it, 1-1.
Barely two minutes later, Stucker, in the middle, worked the ball around goalie Kyle Blackmer and had an open net. He fired — and hit the left post.
That would prove important because, with 5:41 to play, the Mustangs made a push and, in the confusion, Joe Sullivan, off a feed from Merriman, ripped a 25-yard shot into the net that proved to be the game-winner.
Even as they celebrated a big win, Griffin and her Mustangs kept focused on the big picture, knowing that it could meet Skaneateles again for much higher stakes in the upcoming Section III Class B playoffs.
“League play is just practice for the post-season,” said Griffin. “We can still attack a little more intelligently. We can do a lot better.”