Now at full strength, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys soccer team is quietly turning into a force that could cause serious damage when the Section III Class A playoffs roll around.
Already confident after shutting out CBA on Oct. 3, the Red Rams maintained the momentum last Thursday by battling past Chittenango 1-0.
This was the same Bears team J-D had lost to 2-0 exactly a month earlier, when midfielder Zander El-Hindi was still out of the lineup. Since his return, the entire Rams roster has picked up its level of play.
Still, in the early minutes of the Chittenango rematch, J-D was lucky not to fall behind. Four different times, the Bears had point-blank shots, but saw two of those chances hit posts and two others drift wide.
On the other hand, when J-D made a big push in the 13th minute, Jimmy Fazio's pass found Tom Lukow, whose shot sailed past Bears goalie Zach Boswell into the net.
From that point forward, the Red Rams' defense took over. Unlike the CBA game, when sophomore goalie Zack Tanner needed 13 saves to preserve the 2-0 shutout, J-D made sure that Tanner didn't have to be brilliant.
Led by Tim Kendrick, Matt Kopp and Tom Driscoll, J-D's back line frustrated the Bears, leading to fouls that allowed the Rams to maintain possession for long periods of time. Only in the last minutes did Chittenango organize again, but the defense again turned it all away.
That win pushed J-D (8-4, 7-2 league) into first place in the OHSL Freedom division for the first time this autumn. The Rams hope to keep that designation this week in home games against Cortland and Mexico.