Jun 11, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
medals Saturday at SUNY-Cortland, senior captain Bekah Elmer ran to the stands and picked up a banner, then returned to her teammates and unfurled it.
It read “New York State Champions — We’re No. 1”.
And no one could dispute that after the Wildcats completed its perfect 24-0 run to its first state title since 2003 with a hard-fought, 8-4 victory over Farmingdale in the championship game.
“It’s very satisfying,” said head coach Bob Elmer. “They (they players) came up with a list of goals at the beginning of the season. They reached all their goals.”
Sarah Kuonen, the main offensive threat for the Wildcats throughout the weekend, said she was just part of a larger effort.
“It was a team effort all the way through, and everyone contributed,” she said.
After a season where most of the Wildcats’ games were decided by halftime, it had to sweat out much more in both of last weekend’s games at Cortland, especially the final.
Farmingdale, the Section VIII champions from Long Island, did not let the fact that Kuonen scored twice in the game’s first two minutes bother them.
Instead, it clamped down, taking away most of WG’s open looks and shutting them out for more than 12 minutes, plenty of time to catch up and create some tension.
Yet after Janine Hillier’s goal 3:58 into the game, the Wildcats would not allow anything else for the rest of the first half.
Displaying a potent combination of aggressiveness and stick skills, defenders Maggie Yackel, Nicole Perkins, Amanda Corso and Rachel Lasda proved so effective in the early going that the Dalers started forcing plays, leading to turnovers.
Also, midfielders like Elmer, Chrissie Hanley and Colleen Bubnack offered help on both ends, using their unmatched speed to catch up to the ball, then clear it out quickly.
By the early part of the second half, WG led 5-1, and Kuonen had four of those goals, yet another case of her stepping up and carrying her team’s attack when it was needed. Kuonen said big games bring out a higher level of play in her.
“These are the games I live for,” she said.
Farmingdale refused to go away, and cut it to 5-3 on Alyssa Kildare’s goal with 16:06 left. But Colleen Bubnack answered with a goal less than a minute later, and Bekah Elmer streaked to the net and scored with nine minutes left to make it 7-3 — out of the Dalers’ reach, as it turned out.
Getting to that title game was also a challenge. It took a dominant second half, and another star turn from Kuonen, to help WG fight past Lakeland Panas, 12-4, in Friday’s state Class A semifinal.
After a 2-2 exchange, the Wildcats tried to take control when Kuonen and Amanda Cizenski scored in a 29-second span late in the first half, and Ariel Kramer also scored.
The Rebels weren’t impressed, though, and as time ran out in the half, Rosemarie Fazio notched her second goal, cutting the Wildcats’ margin to one, 5-4.
But as Bob Elmer put it, “we’re a second-half team”, and never more so than here.
Lakeland-Panas rarely substituted, and as WG set a blistering pace in the blistering Friday heat, the Rebels began to wear down.
Kuonen exploited this better than anyone else. She scored 1:09 into the second half, fed both Hanley and Bekah Elmer for goals to make it 9-4, then sealed it with two more tallies in a span of 90 seconds.
All told, the North Carolina-bound senior had four goals and two assists. Bubnack and Hanley each found the net twice, while Kiersten Tupper augmented her single tally with three assists. Elmer added one goal and one assist.
By going all the way, the Wildcats matched the accomplishments of its famed predecessors that won three state championships in a row, from 2001 to ’03. It also served as full atonement for WG’s crushing loss to Fayetteville-Manlius in last year’s Section III Class A final.
“This gets rid of all the past pain,” said Bubnack.