Nov 20, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So the Manlius-Pebble Hill girls soccer team went its last 22 games without anyone beating them.
Yet due to the quirks of a penalty-kick shoot-out, the Trojans were kept from a shot at the state Class C championship last Friday at Homer High School.
MPH and S.S. Seward, the Section IX champions from Florida in Orange County in the Catskill region, played to a 0-0 draw and, in the shoot-out that followed, the Spartans beat the Trojans 3-2 in a round that took all five rounds to play out.
Making its debut in the state final four, MPH picked a cold time for it. Snow flurries whipped through the Homer area and temperatures never rose above freezing. Worse yet, a harsh wind blew more than 20 miles per hour, further chilling everyone present.
Despite some inevitable big-stage nerves, the Trojans were quite confident. After all, it had won 21 consecutive games since its season-opening loss to Herkimer on Sept. 7 and had shown no signs of weakness anywhere in its two-month win streak.
What’s more, MPH had the advantage of having the icy wind at its back in the first half against Seward, and after some early defensive stops, it spent most of that time in the Spartans’ end, applying pressure and looking for a breakthrough.
However, Seward goalie Alina Greiser kept making stops, even when the teams switched end and the Trojans played into that same cold wind in the second half. All told, Greiser had 10 saves.
Regulation ended in that 0-0 deadlock, and the teams got 30 minutes of overtime — two full 10-minute periods, plus two five-minute sudden-death sessions — to settle things.
All that time, MPH and Seward could not score. A minute into the last OT period, Makeda McGowan got loose for a 25-yard shot that Greiser had to bat away at the last moment. Otherwise, both teams began to show signs of fatigue which, added to the Arctic conditions, made things even more uncomfortable.
Thus, a shoot-out would be required, the first MPH had faced in the post-season (it got a goal in to overtime to beat Waterville 1-0 in the Section III Class C final on Nov. 3). Trojan goalie Katie Shaw would get her chance to match Greiser’s late-game magic.
Through four rounds, MPH had just one conversion, as Greiser gobbled up shots. Shaw kept her team in it, though, making two saves, and they went to the fifth round with Seward up 2-1.
McGowan was charged with keeping the Trojans alive, which she did, converting her kick to tie it 2-2. Now Shaw had to make a save on Alyse Space, and she got her hand on Space’s shot — but it trickled just inside the left post, and the Spartans had prevailed. Seward would go on to beat Caledonia-Mumford 1-0 in Saturday’s final for its first state title since 1987.
From this year’s 21-2 squad, MPH will lose just three players — McGowan, plus defenders Sophie Finlayson-Schueler and Abbey Oot. Everyone else, from Shaw to players like Kelley Dew, Jen Clay, Rebecca Gregory, Suzanne Englot and Kendra Futera, is expected to return in 2008, and the Trojans will be favored to take another championship run.