Oct 31, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Why is it that the 2010 Section III soccer playoffs look so familiar? Well, because it is.
Again, we have seen few surprises on the boys side, as top seeds mostly glided through the opening rounds stress-free. Contrast that with the wild experiences on the girls side where, among other things, the defending champions in Class AA and B are out.
CBA benefited from top seed Baldwinsville’s abrupt departure in the quarterfinals in 2009. Now it was the Brothers’ turn to slip through the trapdoor, outplaying F-M most of the night, but watching Brenna Kincaid land the only goal in a 1-0 classic at Alibrandi Stadium. The sight of CBA players not leaving the field minutes after the game’s end, stunned, was quite poignant.
So the Bees, who blasted Oswego with five first-half goals, have an easy path, right? Well, not with Liverpool to worry about in Tuesday’s semifinals, since the Warriors played B’ville as tough as anyone in a pair of 2-1 games this fall. And CNS had to just love the F-M upset, because it beat the Hornets in the regular season, but got crushed by CBA. That’s called more manageable.
As with Class AA, the shadow of 2009 hung over the Class B bracket, too. One year, Watertown IHC exploited upsets to ride to the title. This time, it was the Cavaliers as both top seed and top target, Westhill going north to score twice in the last 10 minutes to upend IHC. Now, we could get yet another Westhill-Marcellus final, with the Mustangs rolling along (though it obviously won’t look past Skaneateles) and the Warriors in a manageable semifinal against Mount Markham.
In between all this, J-D has to climb past Cortland to keep its quest for back-to-back Class A titles alive. The Purple Tigers survived an OT classic with archrival Homer to get a third shot at the potent Red Rams, while Whitesboro had the same kind of headache with New Hartford, but now takes the measure of Chittenango’s magnificent goalie, Brigid St. Leger, who all but carried the Bears past Camden.
We’re down to the finals in Class C-1 and C-2. On top, it’s Bishop Ludden trying to avenge last year’s ouster from Sauquoit Valley after both survived close calls (Ludden against Westmoreland, Sauquoit against Onondaga) to get this far. The only guarantee is that the C-1 survivor will be a heavy favorite against the winner of the C-2 game. Utica-Notre Dame ousted top seed Mohawk, but could not get past Waterville in the semifinals. The Indians will meet Fabius-Pompey, who needed OT to get past Bishop Grimes and also beat West Canada in a tight 2-1 affair.
You want order? Go to Class D, where each of the top four seeds remain. And all of them won by big margins in the quarterfinals, giving a pair of strong semis, including Remsen meeting up with Poland and Copenhagen going up against McGraw. Here is the only bracket where you can genuinely think that any of the four teams can win it, and it wouldn’t shock the system.
And speaking of Poland….when we turn our attention to boys Class D, the inevitable Poland-Hamilton playoff clash could yet happen. To get it, the top-seeded Tornadoes must first get past Cincinnatus and the champion Emerald Knights, whose offense woke up in the quarterfinals (five goals, all in the first half, against Old Forge) must battle past McGraw.
Compare the way Manlius-Pebble Hill got away from Bishop Grimes (four goals, all in the second half, all scored or set up by Matt Kardjian) with the fact that the other three semifinalists – Sauquoit Valley, Thousand Islands and Cooperstown – all needed to hang on for 2-1 victories in the quarterfinals. It’s Sauquoit’s turn to deal with MPH, while Cooperstown, trying to go back-to-back, gets the Vikings from Clayton. It’s fair to say that the Trojans are the clearest favorites in any of the boys brackets.
Are we headed toward that Skaneateles-Clinton epic in Class B? The undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Lakers have a real task in the semifinals trying to beat red-hot Westhill for the third time this season. The undefeated Warriors might have a tougher task, though, because it would be very easy to take South Jefferson lightly, since they are a stranger to Clinton – unlike the familiarity Skaneateles has with Westhill.
It takes great imagination to consider anything other than another Class A final between New Hartford and J-D. Now situated as the no. 2 seed, the Spartans crushed Cortland 5-0 as an opening statement, and that has to make semifinal opponent Carthage worry. And while the Red Rams did play ESM twice in the regular season, and there’s familiarity between the neighbors, can the Spartans manage anything against J-D’s terrific defense?
Boy, do those Class AA semifinals look tasty. Yes, F-M is the top seed, and Joe Mahr is flaming (four goals against Nottingham), but it needed a very late rally in the regular season against West Genesee, and those Wildcats looked like a confident bunch dismissing CBA. As for three-time champ Baldwinsville against CNS? Expect a lot of defense, a lot of physical play, and somebody winning 1-0. Doesn’t that always happen?