Nov 22, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Everywhere you looked on the third weekend in November, new chapters of sports history were authored by Section III teams as they captured state championships for the first time.
First it was Cazenovia’s field hockey Lakers, going to the top in Class C. Then it was Baldwinsville’s girls volleyball dynasty, finally scaling the summit after 15 years of local rule. And finally it was another group of Lakers, from Skaneateles, conquering all in Class B boys soccer.
Three teams, three state titles. And several others (two each in boys and girls soccer) made it to the title game before just falling short. Oh yeah, and General Brown’s football Lions made it to the Carrier Dome to play next Sunday for the state Class C title, causing all kinds of pride for folks in the north country.
We start in Caz, where the title won Saturday at CNS’s Bragman Stadium was five years in the making. From 2006 onward, Lorraine Scheftic’s charges kept winning sectional titles – and kept running into a regional wall, unable to even glimpse the state final four.
Not this time, though. Abby Eschen delivered a hat trick that subdued Whitney Point and, after a 2-1 nail-biter with Greenwich, the Lakers arrived at CNS with huge momentum that carried through a 4-0 semifinal rout of Briarcliff Manor.
Then came the final against Pierson-Bridgehampton, from Long Island. Regulation passed without a goal, despite the Lakers’ innumerable penalty corners. But Caz stayed patient and, in the seven-on-seven overtime period, Jillian Vogl delivered the goal – and the school’s first-ever state crown in a team sport.
That good feeling would spread to two other distant locales on Sunday, starting with Glens Falls, where B’ville reached volleyball nirvana the hard way in a thrilling Class AA state final against Webster Schroeder.
Having gone 5-1 in round-robin play on Saturday, the Bees did not get rattled when Schroeder won the first and third games, twice going out in front. Each time, the Bees used its balanced front line (Paulina Rein, Erica Miller, Emily Walser, Sydnie Hamm, Allegra Bell) to pull even, then took over in the decisive fifth game as back-line players Brianna Stewart and Becca Maher offered the support in the 25-17 clincher.
Ever since 1996, coach Mary Jo Cerqua’s Bees have completely dominated local large-school volleyball, winter and fall alike, accumulating 13 sectional titles and three state tournament trips. This, finally, was the reward for all that work, a victory for this team and all those previous champs that never quite got this far.
Finally, there was the scene as dusk fell over Middletown, where the Skaneateles boys soccer team capped off its perfect 2010 campaign by beating Burke Catholic 1-0 for its first-ever state Class B championship.
Already 20-0 when it went to the state final four, these Lakers first dismissed Akron 4-2 in the semifinals, then took a quick lead in the final when Jeff Baldetti scored off A.J. Richichi’s feed.
A fabulous Skaneatlees defense, led by Tim Lewis, Mike Richards and goalie Trevor Diamond, did the rest, preserving the 1-0 win. How ironic that a team which dazzled on offense throughout the autumn, led by the likes of Baldetti, Richichi, Kevin Rice and Spencer Parker, had to clamp down to win it all. That’s a tribute to the complete unit coach Kirk Atwater and his staff put together.
Four other soccer teams tried for state titles – but fell just short. Hamilton dragged Chazy to two overtimes in the Class D final (in their third state final four meeting in as many years), only to get beat in the second extra period when a free kick glanced off an Emerald Knights player and past Kinnon Nolan-Finkel. Nearly co-champs, but in the end an empty feeling.
Baldwinsville also made it to the finals in Class AA after Adam Lauko’s OT goal beat Clarence 2-1, but Brentwood, the long-time power from Long Island, snuffed out the dream 2-0 by scoring twice late in regulation. Of course, the far greater concern was how Kevin Thompson, injured in a late-game collision and taken by helicopter to a hospital, is doing after an overnight stay for a neck injury.
J-D saw its state title dream end in the semifinals against Pittsford Mendon, as did the B’ville girls (to Massapequa) in Class AA at SUNY-Cortland. And the gritty Remsen girls (who had six athletes pull double duty, winning titles in soccer and cross country in the same day) also lost in the state semis to Smithtown Christian.
Yet Marcellus made it to the state finals in Class B, using Kathryn Busa’s pair of late goals to stun Center Moriches 2-1 on Friday. Alas, the magic didn’t carry over as Bronxville stifled the Mustangs in a 1-0 affair to earn its first-ever title – and keep Marcellus from a fourth.
Sauquoit Valley, beaten in the Class C state title game in 2009, made a dramatic return when Elisa Marchione’s goal in the third (sudden-victory) overtime beat S.S. Seward 1-0. Alas, in the final Marion (who needed penalty kicks of its own just to escape the semis) denied the Indians by that same 1-0 margin as it scored midway through the second half.
There would be disappointment on other fronts – CNS could not make it past round-robin state boys volleyball play, even on its home court – but what will stand out from this weekend was the fact that two determined groups of Lakers, and one equally determined group of Bees, reached their ultimate destination.