Solvay, Westhill beaten in soccer semifinals

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.

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