Rouse leads Mustangs to sectional Class B title

For the second time in three years, the Marcellus boys soccer team rules the Section III Class B ranks.

And though the question of whether the Mustangs can equal the state-championship run of its 2005 predecessors remains open, the signs sure seem encouraging.

Still, the Mustangs brought a championship home from SUNY-Cortland on Friday night, ripping Lowville 6-0 in a game where senior Alex Rouse took over, putting up four goals -- while providing a textbook example of how preparation and past experience can lead to massive doses of success.

Marcellus head coach Jennifer Griffin remembered how the Mustangs lost to Lowville 1-0 in the 2006 Class B quarterfinals, and took plenty of notes watching the Red Raiders shock Westhill in this year's semifinal round.

Griffin said that Westhill played to its strength on the wings but sacrificed the middle, which let Lowville pack it in and surround its excellent goalkeeper, Zach Haenlin. Marcellus intended to do the opposite -- that is, focus on the middle, where Rouse could strike.

"We attacked up the middle, where we thought there was some vulnerability," said Griffin. "If we could get the ball in front of Alex, he would be dangerous, so we worked on attacking directly."

Meanwhile, Rouse, a member of that 2005 state title team, did his best job channeling the spirit of Scott Campbell, whose three-goal hat trick in the finals against Clinton that year propelled the Mustangs to that state crown.

Just 3:39 into the game, Rouse struck for the first time, taking a well-time pass from Houke Sievers and ripping a shot past Haenlin. Not content with that, Rouse connected again in the 17th minute, a 15-yard blast into the net off an assist from Joe Carelli.

"It helps to get something early and build the momentum," said Rouse.

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