One rival down for the Marcellus boys soccer team in its quest to return to the Section III Class B throne for the third time in five years - and one more to go.
The no. 2 seed Mustangs took down no. 6 seed Westhill 3-1 in Thursday night's Class B semifinal at West Genesee High School, setting up a return to WG's turf Tuesday night to face defending Skaneateles with the championship on the line.
Through two regular-season meetings, Marcellus had learned plenty about the Warriors, and even on a chilly, windy evening, applied all those lessons.
It was a fast pace from the start. The Mustangs and Warriors traded good scoring chances in the opening minutes, and even when the defenses adjusted, both sides took every possible opportunity to probe.
In the 18th minute, Marcellus began to break through, making a run down the right side and feeding it to the middle, where Keith White's 20-yard shot zoomed past Westhill goalie Ryan Boyle.
Barely six minutes later, the Mustangs made it 2-0 with virtually the same play - a run down the right, a feed to the middle, and a hard shot into the net, with Cal Filtch finishing off the play.
Here, the Mustangs relaxed a bit, and it proved premature. Westhill dominated the rest of the half, and cut the margin to 2-1 in the 32nd minute when, off a throw-in, Aaron Hunt rocketed a shot past Jon Quick into the left side of the net.
The second half proved more frustrating for Westhill's attack. Defenders like Greg Ramsden, Mark Schmidt, Ben Bednarski and Joe Garrant took turns breaking up all the attempts. Quick was aggressive anytime a Warrior attacker, especially Anthony Scaravillo, got near the net, ranging out to gather the ball.
Marcellus regained its two-goal margin in the 58th minute in a familiar way. This time it was Jon Schoonmaker tearing down the right side, finding Tom Glose in the middle - and watching Glose put home the clincher. Westhill finished its season with a record of 13-5-1 under first-year head coach Tom Etoll and will see 10 seniors depart, including Aaron Hunt, J.T. Alcaro, Keegan Lounsberry, Andrew McBride and Dylan Tripodi. Scaravillo, Boyle, Kyle Hunt, Jared Persons, Taylor PRice and Marcus Rinaldi lead the returning cast in 2010.
Marcellus and Skaneateles (who beat top seed Clinton 2-0 in the other semifinal on Wednesday) met twice in the regular season. On Sept. 8, a power outage at Marcellus stopped a 1-1 tie, while the Lakers prevailed 3-1 in the rematch on Oct. 1.
The two neighbors and long-time rivals have not met in a boys soccer championship game since 1985, which ended in a 0-0 tie and the Mustangs advancing to the state tournament in a penalty-kick shoot-out.