Hamilton soccer returns to state final four

Two more wins. That's all Hamilton boys soccer needs to repeat as Class D state champions.

The fourth-ranked Emerald Knights took an important step toward another crown by shutting out second-ranked Margaretville of Section IV, 2-0, in Saturday's Class D regional final at Chittenango.

By handing Margaretville its first loss of the year, the Emerald Knights (17-3-1) advanced to this weekend's state final four at the Soccer Hall of Fame Complex in Oneonta.

Seniors Dan Meeks and Mikey Jones accounted for Hamilton's scoring against the Blue Devils, who finished the year at 17-1-1.

"This is huge for us," Meeks said. "We have a bunch of guys that have been working really hard. We have a lot of guys who have stepped up this year. It's great to get back there."

Hamilton took it to the Blue Devils in the first half and possessed the ball well, creating a number of solid chances. The Emerald Knights' persistence paid off with a goal by Meeks at the 22-minute mark in the first half.

Meeks collected the ball on the left side, dribbled forward and lofted a shot on goal. The well-placed shot went over the head of Margaretville keeper Brian Faulker and landed into the far corner of the net.

"I got a great pass from the middle and I took it up outside with my left foot," Meeks said. "I was just outside the 18 and I took a shot. It went into the upper right corner. It was great."

"We are a good team collectively," Hamilton coach Brian Latella said. "To get a goal like that, kind of a lucky bounce over the top - when we can get a lead, we feel pretty confident we can hold it."

Hamilton's back line defense, led by junior Lucas Rhyde, junior Joe Taranto, senior Jack Sullivan and sophomore Alex Brink, did their part to shut down the Blue Devils attack. Latella, the Class D state coach of the year last fall, said one-on-one defending was key against the Blue Devils.

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