Perhaps the Chittenango boys soccer team picked just the right time to hit a peak form that should make the other Section III Class A title contenders worry.
Finally home for a Class A playoff game, the no. 3 seed Bears made the most of the opportunity on a wet, windy Saturday afternoon, flying past no. 6 seed Nottingham 4-0 in the quarterfinal round.
This was supposed to be a serious challenge. Nottingham had faced Class AA foes all season in the CNY Counties League and had breezed through no. 11 seed Indian River 5-0 in the first round.
However, Chittenango was well-rested, at close to full strength and quite comfortable on its home turf. It also knew that, for all the skill the Bulldogs possessed, it had an inconsistent goalie in Bijor Ajak, something that could be exploited.
In the game's 14th minute, Josh Kimber's well-placed header sent Dan Scavone straight up the middle, and his low shot flew past Ajak into the net.
Barely seven minutes later, it was 2-0 as, amid a scramble in front of the net, Ajak got caught out of position, and Nils Belting converted with the open shot, Mike Koegel getting the assist.
Now on a serious roll, the Bears kept attacking, using its front-line speed to create more chances. In the 30th minute, Chittenango drew a corner kick, and off the rebound, Luke Greiner's shot crashed off the crossbar and just inside the goal line, making it 3-0.
The combination of all these blows staggered Nottingham beyond repair, and it spent the rest of the game trying to prevent a shutout. But the Bears' back line, led by Belting, Greiner, Mike Moon and sweeper Tom Connelly, did a terrific job turning away Bulldog attacks, and Zach Boswell made seven saves.
Luca Bottoni offered a fourth goal with a 25-yard rocket shot in the 63rd minute, as the Bears advanced to meet no. 2 seed Jamesville-DeWitt (who beat Fowler 2-1 in overtime) in the Class A semifinal. Chittenango and J-D split two regular-season meetings, and the winner of the third clash will get New Hartford or Watertown in the sectional title game.