Nov 01, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
On a wet and windy Friday afternoon, two local girls soccer teams moved ahead in the Section III playoffs with 2-1 victories — one conventional, the other shocking and unexpected.
Westhill handled the conventional part, holding off Cazenovia in a tense Class B quarterfinal and avoiding the early exit that plagued so many other long-time powers in the early rounds.
But West Genesee’s win over Liverpool in the Class AA quarterfinals was stunning on many different levels, from the way the two teams had played during the season to the way the game unfolded, with a complete turnaround at the end.
Liverpool, the no. 3 seed, had gone 12-3-1 during the season, including a home win over West Genesee on Sept. 29. By contrast, the Wildcats were 8-5-2 and, while a solid squad, had given little indication it was close to knocking off the established favorites once the AA playoffs got underway.
Sure enough, in the first half against Liverpool, WG found itself in a defensive mode most of the time, just trying to hang on in the face of steady rain, a gusty south wind and a steady Liverpool attack.
Midway through the half, Liverpool went up, 1-0, on Alison Flood’s goal fed by a pass from the left by Julia Bruno. WG had one good chance during the half, a run by Mel Murphy that Warriors goalie Noel Peck stopped by racing out to catch the ball before Murphy could flick it past her.
Despite a lot of chances, though, the Warriors couldn’t add to that 1-0 margin, giving WG a glimmer of hope as the rain let up in time for the second half.
Sure enough, with the wind at its back, the Wildcats’ chances improved, and with Moriah Saidel recording 10 saves and a second-half shutout, there was time to catch up, at least.
But WG did much more. Morgan Corso flicked a shot past Peck to tie it, 1-1, and just three minutes later, with the Wildcats attacking again, Emily Tripodi stepped up and converted her first goal of the season — the game-winner, as it turned out.
This advanced WG to a Class AA semifinal against no. 2 seed CBA, with the winner to get Auburn (who shocked top seed and defending champion Baldwinsville 1-0 in overtime) or Fayetteville-Manlius in the finals.
As for Westhill, its defense of the Class B title had an interesting start long before it took the field, and all of its involved its neighbors from Solvay.
First, Solvay eliminated Westhill’s long-time rival for Class B supremacy, Marcellus, 1-0 in the quarterfinals Thursday night, the earliest the Mustangs had been eliminated in 11 years.
Then Westhill, the no. 4 seed, had to move its own game with no. 5 seed Cazenovia to Solvay’s Earl Hadley Stadium when mid-week rains rendered the Warriors’ home field unplayable. And it was a tough assignment, since the Lakers had beaten Westhill 3-1 on Oct. 19.
In a wild first half, Cazenovia paid for giving too much defensive attention to Kelly Ristoff. Both Brenna Rainone and Emily Haggerty scored, with Ristoff and Kayla Stirpe getting credit for assists.
Rachel Burbidge answered for the Lakers, making it a one-goal margin at halftime, and the two sides continued to duel through a tense second half. Despite all kinds of chances, Cazenovia could not pull even, as Meredith Rice finished with 15 saves.
Now the clear favorite to repeat in Class B, Westhill (13-3-1) clashes with top seed Watertown IHC in the semifinal round, with the winner to get Solvay or Lowville in the finals.