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Star players send top soccer seeds into sectional semis

Rarely did the Spartans get many chances through the game's opening stages. Yet it moved out in front to stay less than five minutes into the game as Joshua Stuper, from 35 yards out, drilled a shot that eluded goalie Brendan Didio, giving ESM a 1-0 edge.

Midway through the half, Senid Hakic sent a pass through the middle that careened off an Oneida defender past Didio, doubling the margin. For the rest of the night, ESM's defense did a superb job protecting that lead, bottling up the Indians' front line. Only twice did Casey Sullivan have to make direct stops. The winner between ESM and J-D gets New Hartford or Carthage for the Class A championship.

Meanwhile, on Friday MPH, whose loss to Westhill in the regular-season finale was the team's first blemish after a 15-0 start (it also fell from no. 1 to no. 3 in the state Class C rankings), put its top seed on the line against no. 8 seed Bishop Grimes, who edged past Westmoreland 2-1 in the opening round.

For a half, the Trojans, who beat the Cobras twice in the regular season, could not solve the Grimes defense, and the two sides went to halftime 0-0. Then Kardjian took charge.

All the MPH senior did in the second half was put in two unassisted goals and, when he got covered, earned assists on the other two scoring plays as Jun Lee and Baird Hansen both converted. The Trojans' defense held Grimes to a scant two shots, as in defeat Mike Besbiaty finished with 10 saves.

Grimes concluded its season with a 9-8-1 mark, while MPH finds itself meeting no. 4 seed Sauquoit Valley, a 2-1 overtime survivor over Frankfort-Schuyler, in the Class C semifinals. Whoever wins gets defending champion Cooperstown or Thousand Islands in the title game.

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