For the fifth time in eight years, the Marcellus girls soccer team will see its season end in the most exciting way possible - at the state Class B final four.
It took a pair of regional playoff victories for the Mustangs to make it back to the biggest stage of the season, culminating with Saturday's impressive 3-0 win over Section VII champion Peru at Plattsburgh High School.
To win its 17th game in a row, Marcellus turned to its expertise in set plays and, once again, relied on the finishing power of two players, junior Kathryn Busa and freshman Brielle Filtch, who have been standouts throughout the post-season.
Marcellus steadily controlled the flow of play until the 16th minute, when it earned a corner kick. Busa took it and sent a beautiful, curved ball that Peru goalie Demi Dayton never saw - until it had curled into the net to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead. The goal broke up a Peru shutout streak that had lasted more than 13 games.
Stunned by this, the Indians made a series of attacks to try and pull even, only to have Marcellus goalie Sophie Jackson handle every attempt, including Ashley Carpenter's hard shot in the 28th minute.
Just four minutes before halftime, the Mustangs got a throw-in near the Indians' net. Having worked on this all through the season, Marcellus knew what to do as Filtch delivered a beautiful cross to the middle - and Busa, timing it perfectly, headed the ball past Dayton to make it 2-0.
Busa and Filtch were not done, either. In the 57th minute, the Mustangs pushed again. This time, it was Busa providing the feed and Flitch converting, her hard shot crashing into the net to create the final margin.
All through the late stages, Marcellus had to play a fair amount of defense, too, as Peru took 11 shots. Jackson stopped
everything that came to her, finishing with 14 saves and not letting the Indians get on the board.
This sends Marcellus to the state final four. The Mustangs will face Long Island champion Center Moriches Friday in the state semifinals at 9 a.m. at Homer High School. The winner gets Greece Odyssey or Bronxville in Saturday's final at 9 a.m. at SUNY-Cortland.
Four previous times, the Mustangs have reached the state title game, winning it all in 2003 and 2004, but losing the finals in 2005 and 2007.