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J-D girls advance to first-ever sectional final

A bit of history will be made Friday night when the Jamesville-DeWitt girls soccer team stepped on to the turf at Chittenango High School to face Cortland in the Section III Class A finals.

It marked the first time the Red Rams had ever played for a sectional girls soccer title.

J-D made this first-ever final in a memorable manner, enduring some of the worst conditions imaginable to beat Chittenango 1-0 in last Tuesday's Class A semifinal at West Genesee High School in Camillus.

A half-hour before kickoff, the rain that had been falling all day turned into snow. That combined with a 25 mile-per hour win and temperatures in the 30s to create a mid-winter atmosphere, even though it was the last week of October.

Accordingly, both the Red Rams and Bears bundled up as much as possible, then went to work. J-D displayed most of the early aggression, keeping Chittenango in a defensive mode and probing for a breakthrough.

Then, in the 19th minute, defender Mariah Hunter slipped and injured herself, and when goalie Brigid St. Leger also fell down, Tori Nies broke open and, taking a pass from Natalie Mannion, pushed the ball into the net.

Gradually, J-D's attack lessened as the first half wore on, and nearly disappeared in the second half. The Wildcat Stadium turf, covered in white snow, took on the texture of sand, as the ball stayed in play nearly all the time, as the players also kept passes low and short to compensate for the gusty winds.

Especially in the second half, Chittenango attacked hard, sending forwards Emily Smith, Jenna Barber and Brittney Tirabassi ahead to dribble and go after the net.

The Bears' best chances came in a two-minute span, starting in the 50th minute where Barber and Smith both took point-blank shots. Sarah Gianni deflected one of those shots over the net, and caught the other. Chittenango would not get a better look the rest of the night.

As this was going on, Cortland was playing at Chittenago and ripping Fulton 5-1 in the other semifinal, led by Aubrey VanGorder's four-goal outing. As the defending champs, the Purple Tigers will be a severe challenge for J-D as the Rams try to make history once again.

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