Nov 11, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If anyone needed a tutorial on the cruel nature of the game they play, the Skaneateles boys soccer team could offer it.
Fresh off claiming its first Section III Class B championship in 19 years, the Lakers paid a visit to the National Soccer Hall of Fame complex in Oneonta last Saturday to face Section IV champion Chenango Forks in the Class B regional finals. Win here, and the Lakers would earn a return trip to Oneonta for the state final four.
By every statistical measure, the Lakers dominated against the Blue Devils — but on the scoreboard at the end, Forks had a 1-0 overtime victory, and Skaneateles saw its season come to an abrupt end.
Both arrived as unlikely sectional champs. Skaneateles had overcome a no. 9 seed to earn its crown, while Forks was 11-7-1 going into the regional game and had won its sectional title as a no. 7 seed.
Yet right from the moment the game kicked off on a soggy and wet afternoon, the Lakers found itself encamped on the Forks side of the field, looking to break through.
In the first half, that meant a lot of possession time that didn’t translate into anything on the board, leaving the teams 0-0 going into the break.
Skaneateles kept pushing in the second half — and Forks kept resisting, as goalkeeper Casey Redfern made sure the Blue Devils stayed alive.
And even when Redfern was out of position midway through the half and Skaneaetles seemed to have an open net to shoot at, Forks defender Matt Kane stepped in to kick the ball out of trouble.
What the Lakers could take comfort in, though, was the patience it showed throughout this game and they figured that, in 30 possible minutes of sudden-death overtime, it would break through.
Just 10 minutes into the first OT, a long Laker pass found Zach Brownlee at point-blank range to the Forks net. Brownlee shot left — and somehow Redfern dove and made the save.
Less than three minutes later, Forks made a rare attack, having taken just four shots to the Lakers’ 19. Pat Creagh passed it left, to Tyler Gill, and Laker goalie Jake Bird ran out to meet Gill, only to see Gill rip a shot past him just inside the right post, sending the Blue Devils to the state final four.
If Skaneateles could take any comfort from this shocking defeat, it came in the fact that it won a sectional title with few seniors on its roster, though it included Austin Parker and Eric Stucker.
Bird and Brownlee lead a big returning class in 2009 that includes Bryan Stokes-Cawley, Spencer Parker, A.J. Richichi, Jeff Higman, Ryan Farrell, Kelly Donigan, Mark Cannucciari and Michael Richards. The habit of winning soccer championships at Skaneateles might become a regular one.