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Trojans denied spot in state finals by shoot-out

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.

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