MPH girls make first trip to state final four

For as long as they've attended the school, the Manlius-Pebble Hill girls soccer team has looked at, or been reminded about, the legacy the boys soccer Trojans created, including back-to-back state championships in 2000 and 2001.

Now the MPH girls are carving out their own legacy -- and might be far from done.

The Trojans sealed its first-ever trip to the state final four when it beat Candor, 2-0, in last Saturday's Class C regional final at Union-Endicott High School, near Binghamton.

This came just a week after the Trojans beat Waterville by that same 2-0 margin for its first outright Section III title, and was the team's 21st win in a row.

Unlike the Waterville game, though, MPH did not wait until overtime to claim the advantage against Candor, the Section IV champions.

From the start, the Trojans won every battle for the ball and controlled the possession, spending the first eight minutes in Candor's end and maintaining constant pressure, waiting for a breakthrough.

That came in the 30th minute, when Kendra Futera took a shot that Candor goalkeeper Lori Wagstaff stopped -- but the rebound slipped out, and Rebecca Gregory poured in the rebound, giving the Trojans a 1-0 edge that held until halftime.

In the second half, MPH's defense had to do a bit more work, but it shut down anything Candor attempted to establish, never allowing a shot.

Still, the game wasn't settled until Futera, with six minutes to play, took a great feed from Gregory and, from the right side, crushed a shot past Wagstaff into the net.

MPH now takes its act back to the Cortland area in pursuit of a state championship. On Friday at 12:45, the Trojans face S.S. Seward (Section IX) in the state semifinal at Homer High School. The winner gets Caledonia-Mumford (Section V) or Hoosick Falls (Section II) in Saturday's final at SUNY-Cortland at 12:45.

A big local contingent will be at Cortland, since MPH, Cicero-North Syracuse (Class AA), Marcellus (Class B) and Lyme (Class D) all made it this far from the Section III ranks.

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