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ESM boys earn first sectional title since '92

A decade and a half since the East Syracuse-Minoa boys soccer team won its only Section III championship, it finally got that second crown.

And though it wasn't easy in the end, the Spartans held on to beat its namesakes from New Hartford, 3-2, to earn that title on a chilly Friday night at SUNY-Cortland.

As his players whooped it up with the Class A championship banner, head coach Mark Carr said their closeness had a lot to do with claiming this crown.

"It feels incredible," he said. "They have worked since seventh grade for this and came together as a unit."

Senior forwards Andy Alaimo emphasized this bond, too.

"The best thing about this team is that we have no stars -- just a bunch of great players," he said.

All that chemistry was needed against New Hartford. Going in, the focus was on NH's star senior forward, Andrew Steates, who had earned 39 goals this fall, including two in a 5-0 semifinal romp over Chittenango.

But it didn't take long for ESM to show that it could put shots in the net, too. Just 4:11 into the game, Ben Rowell executed a perfect cross from the right side that Jim Dean headed past New Hartford goalie Tim Reed.

Following that, ESM's defense went to work on Steates. They let just about every other New Hartford player handle the ball and attack, but bottled up Steates. Anthony Giangarra, L.T. Kerznowski, James Chayka, Josh Sabey and D.J. Gridley all helped in this effort.

ESM made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute, when Alaimo took a well-timed pass from Stelan Music and, from the left side, lofted a shot over Reed's head into the net.

That lead held up through halftime and through most of the second half, too, ESM gaining confidence every time it turned away Steates and his teammates. And when Adam Rowell, off Alaimo's feed, fired in a goal with 14:08 to play to make it 3-0, the title looked secure.

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