Nov 03, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As in so many other instances in the last decade, the Westhill girls soccer team’s direct path to a Section III Class B championship ran right into Marcellus.
And when the two long-time rivals clashed once more last Saturday night at Chittenango High School’s turf, they would take a long, long time to settle things.
In fact, the Warriors and Mustangs technically wouldn’t settle anything, ending up tied at 1-1 and declared as sectional co-champions. But in the penalty-kick shoot-out to decide who would move on to the state tournament, Westhill prevailed 4-2.
After two regular-season defeats to Marcellus on Sept. 19 and Oct. 11, the Warriors finally figured the Mustangs out, something that even head coach Lisa Duffy found a bit difficult to comprehend.
“Maybe it takes us until the post-season to figure it out,” she said.
On this chilly evening where the temperature dipped below 30 degrees, both Westhill and Marcellus would find that their respective offensive attacks were just as ice-cold.
Through 80 minutes of a 0-0 regulation stalemate, neither side had a big chance to score, and the goalies — Lauren Wolfe for the Warriors, Megan Tock for the Mustangs — did not have to make many spectacular stops.
For Westhill’s part, defenders Mackenzie Rainone, Alyssa Reale and Bridget Dwyer never allowed the Mustangs’ attackers to get too close, forcing long, low-percentage shots that weren’t going to post a big danger.
“We just did not let (Marcellus) organize their attack,” said Dwyer.
So it went to 20 minutes of mandatory overtime. Near the end of the first 10-minute OT period, the Mustangs made a big charge and took a shot that hit the right post. The rebound came out to Erin Corcoran, who fired a shot past Wolfe 7.7 seconds before the period ended.
Still, 10 minutes of OT remained, and Dwyer said she reminded her team that they had come this far, with a chance, so there was no reason to surrender.
Sure enough, less than two minutes into the second 10-minute OT, Carly Cooper flew open on the right side and crushed a shot past Tock, tying it 1-1. Neither side would threaten much again in the remaining OT, including a pair of five-minute sudden-death periods.
Already the co-champions, Westhill prepared for the shootout. What helped was that the Warriors were ready for this situation. Dwyer said her team practiced penalty kicks for 20 minutes the day before, and even knew which 10 players would line up should the shoot-out go that far.
Going first, Cooper converted, then watched the Mustangs’ Lyssa Filtch hit it over the net. Kelly Ristoff also was successful — but on the third try, Ellie Radin got stopped, Tock making the save, and it was 2-2 with two rounds to go.
Valerie Golembiewski did score in the fourth round. Then, just as Filtch had done, the Mustangs’ Becca Eddy hit her penalty kick over the net, and Westhill had the lead again.
Now, senior Sam Marshall had the chance to win it. After a slight delay to wait for the ball to come back, Marshall took her time, waited, then fired the ball into the left side of the net, beginning the Warriors’ celebration.
Going in, Marcellus supposedly had the advantage of an extra day of rest. Both of the Class B semifinals were supposed to be played last Tuesday at Corcoran High School before the surprise winter snowstorm caused the games to be postponed.
The Mustangs made up its semifinal Wednesday, fighting past Cazenovia 1-0, but the Warriors had to wait until Thursday night to get its shot at no. 8 seed Watertown IHC, who had knocked top seed Lowville out of the sectional tournament.
It turned out to be a tough, grinding contest with IHC (whose head coach, Kurt Robbins, wasn’t even at the game due to a scheduling conflict), but Westhill got through it, matching Marcellus with a 1-0 winning margin.
Both sides played terrific defense in much tamer (though still cold) conditions. On Westhill’s side, Rainone and Bridgette Dwyer led the back-line effort as the Warriors and Cavaliers played through a scoreless first half.
Patient against a tough IHC resistance, Westhill finally broke through early in the second half, scoring when the Cavaliers turned it over and Marshall, off a feed from Alyssa Reale , deposited a shot into the unoccupied net.
From there, Westhill’s defense again shut the door, assuring that it would get one more chance at Marcellus — where Marshall would prove to be a hero again.
On Tuesday, the Warriors meet Section II champion Ravena in the Class B regional playoffs. The winner advances to this weekend’s regional finals and a chance to reach next weekend’s state final four in the Cortland/Homer area.