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Ludden girls soccer wins C-2 title

Just by a few inches, the Bishop Ludden girls soccer team held on and took the Section III Class C-2 championship home to Geddes.

The Gaelic Knights, who had not won a sectional title of any kind in nearly three decades (since 1980, to be exact), held off defending Class C champion Utica-Notre Dame 2-1 in last Wednesday afternoon's C-2 final at Chittenango High School.

Ludden knew that the Jugglers' 9-8-1 record was quite deceptive, in that it spent most of the season in competition against Class A and B schools in the Tri-Valley League. But UND had also needed overtime to survive West Canada Valley in the C-2 semifinals on Oct. 31, while the Gaelic Knights got through Beaver River 2-0 in regulation.

The two private-school foes played on fairly even terms in the early going, getting used to the turf setting at Chittenango and overcoming early nerves.

That all changed midway through the first half, though, as Bella Knapp broke loose and pushed a shot past UND goalie Lilian Eannace to give Ludden a 1-0 edge.

Early in the second half, that margin doubled, as Kim Balla put home the Gaelic Knights' second goal, with assists going to Grace Rooney and Ashley Cianfriglia.

Now Ludden had to hang on, as the Jugglers' attack built up. And the tension only increased when Stephanie Wurz sent a shot soaring past Meaghan McGrath with 10 minutes left.

Desperately trying to avoid overtime, Ludden closed in on defense, with Emily Wheeler as the anchor. McGrath worked her total to six saves, but the Gaelic Knights still needed a UND shot to crash off the crossbar with two minutes left in regulation to prevail.

And all this leads to Saturday's overall Class C final at SUNY-Cortland against unbeaten (19-0) Sauquoit Valley, who pummeled Tully 8-0 to win the C-1 portion of the sectional tournament.

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