Oct 27, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With an intense and physical effort, the West Genesee girls soccer team went to Cicero-North Syracuse last Thursday night and beat the defending Class AA champion Northstars 1-0.
If that sounds familiar — well, it is. The exact same thing — a 1-0 Wildcat victory over CNS — took place five days earlier, on the exact same field.
But the second contest had far more meaning, because it came in the Section III Class AA quarterfinals, a place where WG, the no. 5 seed, was knocked out by Baldwinsville a year earlier.
That bitter memory had motivated the Wildcats throughout 2006, and, according to head coach Janine Corning, had helped the team overcome a string of mid-season injuries to flourish right now.
“We had adversity,” said Corning. “But we were just hoping to peak at the right time. We knew we were one of the best teams and could play with anyone.”
One other major factor was different in this second game with CNS within the span of less than a week- and that had to do with the player in the Northstars’ net.
Senior Meg Kinne was back for CNS, the no. 4 seed, this after missing most of October with an injured leg as freshman Chelesea Dunay took over. Kinne had watched the Oct. 21 game with WG from the sidelines, but was now an active participant, as the Wildcats found out quickly.
In the 19th minute, Chelsea Kuss was fouled inside the 18-yard box. Given a penalty kick, Kuss went for inside the left post — but Kinne read it and made a diving save to keep WG from taking the lead.
CNS was fired up by Kinne’s save, but the Wildcats quickly regrouped — and would spend the rest of regulation putting up a near-perfect defensive stand.
Kiersten Tupper, Monica Sisson and Amanda Corso did most of the work to keep CNS forwards Nicole Close and Amanda Deck from getting any open looks. And Nicole Perkins came off the bench to provide great help, this after missing most of the season with injuries.
Together, they protected Melissa Stevens well. By far, Stevens’ toughest stop was one off a free kick early in the second half, when Julianne Viviano passed it to Deck, and Stevens caught Deck’s one-timer. She would finish with 17 saves, but most of them were simple ones.
It remained 0-0 through the end of regulation, as the Wildcats met plenty of its own offensive frustration. With goalies like Stevens and Kinne in the net, the probability of a shoot-out seemed large as 20 minutes of overtime began.
But with 2:36 left in the first of those 10-minute OT periods, Chrissie Hanley attacked from the right side, then crossed it to the middle, where Bekah Elmer brushed the shot past Kinne to put the Wildcats in front.
Instead of sitting back to defend, WG spent the remaining 12-plus minutes of OT pushing the tempo. Corning said her team’s superb conditioning allowed them to stay fresh all the way to the end.
“Our fitness was a factor,” she said.
Now the Wildcats got ready for a showdown in the Class AA semifinals against top seed Liverpool. WG gave the Warriors (17-1-1) its only defeat of the season, 1-0, back on Sept. 23.
Here, the prize is simple — a trip to this weekend’s AA final at SUNY-Cortland against Baldwinsville or Auburn. Corning said her team, with 12 hungry seniors, is ready to face the heat.
“We’ve been building to this for three years,” she said.