Oct 28, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
No one would normally equate the Fayetteville-Manlius girls soccer team with an ability to shut down an opponent – especially one as accomplished and dangerous as defending Section III Class AA champion Christian Brothers Academy.
Yet that’s exactly what the no. 7 seed Hornets did Thursday night at Alibrandi Stadium, showing up and offering first-rate resistance to the Brothers and pulling out a 1-0 victory, the only goal coming from Brenna Kincaid early in the second half as CBA, the no. 2 seed, saw its title reign came to an end.
What F-M had learned, in the course of playing CBA to a 2-2 draw back on Oct. 2 at Swan Pond, was that it had the capability of slowing down the Brothers’ vaunted attack. It was just a matter of finding the right strategy for the playoff rematch – which the Hornets surely did.
From the opening kickoff onward, F-M neutralized the Brothers by preventing open space with its back line. That included double-teaming Alexis Koval, the Brothers’ all-time leading scorer, every time she touched the ball.
Five players – defenders Mollie Caputo, Marilyn Farrell and Meghan Kingsley, plus midfielders Alessandra Armstrong and Morgan Same – allowed protection for goalie Nina Quigley and broke up all the Brothers’ attacks.
At least for a half, that strategy proved quite effective, even as the Hornets sacrificed offensive opportunities. F-M’s best early chance came in the 26th minute, when, off the deflection of a corner kick, Same had an open chance, only to hit it wide. They went to the break 0-0.
As the second half wore on, and the scoreless duel continued, the pressure continued to build. And F-M took full advantage mere seconds after Quigley broke up Koval’s free kick attempt in the 47th minute.
Brenna Kincaid broke down the left side and caught a long pass at just the right place. Working her way around defender Jasmine Harrell, Kincaid fired a shot that eluded Courtney Henderson and found the right side of the net, putting F-M in front.
Now in an urgent situation, CBA picked up its pressure, only to run into that same defensive wall that had proved so effective earlier in the game. And Quigley kept cool, catching every shot directed at her, including Eva Gordon’s hit in the 54th minute and two different Koval free kicks within a minute of each other at the midway point of the half.
The Brothers’ volume of attacks only increased in the waning minutes. It took every bit of F-M’s discipline and poise to resist all of them – but somehow, it did, including a wild sequence with 3:40 left where the ball nearly crossed the F-M goal line – but somehow, Quigley held on to it.
CBA vocally protested that it had earned the tying goal, but the officials did not allow it. At the final horn, as the Hornets celebrated, several CBA players remained on the field, stunned that it had all ended.
F-M will meet no. 6 seed Cicero-North Syracuse (who upended no. 3 seed Watertown 3-1) in the Class AA semifinals. The Northstars beat the Hornets 1-0 back on Oct. 4 at Swan Pond.
Just before the girls match-up, CBA saw its boys soccer team knocked out in the Class AA quarterfinals. The no. 4 seed Brothers fell, 2-0, to no. 5 seed West Genesee, who used a pair of goals in the second half to prevail.
It appeared that CBA caught a big break when the Wildcats lost its regular-season finale to Rome Free Academy on Oct. 22, allowing the Brothers to play on its home turf instead of WG’s grass surface. Yet it never bothered the visitors too much as, in the first half, it played CBA to a 0-0 stalemate, then started to pick up its pressure early in the second half.
WG found itself played into the wind. But 2:35 into the half, Jake Sutherland charged in and caught CBA goalie Dave Anderson going too far. Sutherland had an open net to target, and hit it too hard, the ball sailing over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Kris Triana charged in for the Brothers, but slid his shot just wide right. Another big chance for the Wildcats came in the 54th minute as Bojan Topalovic, from the right side, screamed a shot that Anderson had to dive to stop.
All this built to the events of the 61st minute. Taking possession at midfield, Stefanos Stamoulacatos picked up speed and dribbled past two CBA defenders as he went to his left. From 20 yards out, Stamoulacatos struck a left-footed dart past Anderson inside the top right corner of the net, a shot nearly impossible to stop, and WG had the lead.
Just four minutes later, Topalovic returned, moving down the same side of the field from where he just missed earlier in the half. This time, echoing what Stamoulacatos had done, Topalovic used his right foot to smash a shot inside the top left corner of the net, out of Anderson’s reach for the insurance goal.
Try as it could in the waning minutes (and it had multiple chances), CBA could not put anything past Wildcats goalie Dylan Condon, and its season ended with a record of 11-6.