Nov 04, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When the Solvay and Westhill girls soccer teams went up to the north country on Tuesday to participate in the Section III Class B semifinals at Carthage High School, both imagined winning, then moving on to play for the championship.
Neither would get there.
Solvay, in particular, took a painful exit, seeing a three-goal lead slip away in a 4-3 loss to no. 2 seed Lowville, while Westhill’s dreams of back-to-back sectional titles got halted in a 2-0 defeat to top seed Watertown IHC.
Recent history had suggested success for both sides, in that members of the OHSL Liberty division had dominated the Class B playoffs — though that usually meant Westhill or Marcellus claiming the title, as they did 13 out of 14 times from 1995 to 2008.
Solvay, the no. 11 seed, had already staged a pair of road surprises, upending no. 6 seed Mount Markham in overtime and shocking Marcellus 1-0 in the quarterfinals, causing the Mustangs’ earliest playoff exit in 11 years.
Flush with all this new confidence, head coach Melody Frederickson’s Bearcats went to Carthage and proceeded to dismantle Lowville in the first half.
Three different times, Solvay solved the Red Raiders’ defense, as freshman Alexis Bandera scored and added an assist, with senior Jessica Savo and junior Sara Fonda also putting shots in the net. Junior defender Tiffany Guinta added an assist.
All that, plus Chelsea Root’s superb work in the net (she would finish with 19 saves), had the Bearcats in front 3-0 at the half, and perhaps thoughts already drifted to the next round, and the chance at a first Solvay sectional soccer title in nearly a quarter-century.
If, indeed, the Bearcats were caught looking ahead, Lowville made them pay for it.
Now with the wind at its backs, the Raiders picked up its attack even further, and once it scored, that seemed to turn everything around. Lauren Croniser, Taylor Haenlin and Madeline Lyndaker all scored in the Lowville flurry, and suddenly it was a 3-3 tie.
And before Solvay could regroup or, at the very least, force it to overtime, Red Raiders forward Keely Sammon pushed a shot past Root with a little more than nine minutes to play, and that proved to be the game-winner.
In stark contrast to all these vast momentum shifts, Westhill, the no. 4 seed, never reached that position against IHC, who used its own big second half to take control of the other semifinal.
All through the first half, the Warriors made a series of attacks, only to get broken up by a sound Cavaliers defense that never let Kelly Ristoff and her teammates get too close to the net.
So it remained 0-0 until the second half, when IHC took charge. In the 54th minute, Adrianna Spicer flashed open and poked a shot past Meredith Rice to put the Cavaliers in front, and with less than 13 minutes left Spicer returned to feed Erin McClusky for the insurance goal.
Westhill finished with a record of 13-4-1, and will see eight seniors depart, including Rice, Emily Haggerty, Marianne Stray, Ellie Radin, Kayla Stirpe, Caroline Buonocore, Aubrey Zych and Mary Bailey. The presence of young talent like Ristoff, Brenna Rainone, Emily Haggerty, Bethany Hemmes and Lindsey Lippert should keep the Warriors tough in 2010.
With Solvay (11-8-1), a career’s worth of valuable lessons about the highs and lows of soccer could be gleamed from its post-season run.
Now it must move on without key players like Savo, Mariesa Carpenter (whose goal beat Marcellus), Amanda Bigness, Maggie Klasen, Alison Mrowinski and Amy Finch. However, Root, Bandera, Fonda, Guinta, Gabby Santoferrara, McKenzie Moore and Kate Martinez all should return next fall, newly confident in what they can do — and still hungry to do more.