Camillus On a night where the Marcellus girls soccer team's defense was close to perfect, it only figured that a defender produced the game's decisive shot.
Shannon Donahue's unlikely goal less than five minutes into the contest proved enough as the no. 3 seed Mustangs toppled no. 2 seed Westhill 1-0 in Tuesday's Section III Class B semifinal at West Genesee High School.
This marked the latest post-season chapter between the Mustangs and Warriors, who have dominated local Class B soccer in the last decade and a half. Marcellus beat Westhill in last year's sectional final, but this time they met a round earlier.
Of course, they had two regular-season encounters this fall, split up as the Warriors took the first meeting 3-2 and the Mustangs won the return match 2-1 in overtime.
In those games, said Marcellus coach Laurie Updike, her team learned not to give Westhill's speedy, skilled group of front-line players any room to operate.
"They attack in numbers and come at you so fast," said Updike. "We had to shut it down."
In this game, that meant utilizing all kinds of players in the back, from traditional defenders like Donahue, McChesney Mastro, Faith Seeley and Grace Bowhall to midfielders like Jackie Epp and Dani Felty.
Together, they swallowed up entire areas of the field, so any time the likes of Brenna Rainone, Kelly Ristoff, Maggie Tripodi or Lindsey Lippert brought the ball into the Mustangs' end, one or two defenders interrupted the flow and, more often than not, cleared it out.
"We game-planned for it, and did a good job," said Updike. "They (Westhill) were frustrated."
Adding to the frustration was the way Marcellus got out in front. Just 4:51 into the game, Donahue had the ball in space on the right side, 35 yards out. She hit a low, hard shot to the net, the speed of which may have fooled Westhill goalie Sam Peebles, who saw the ball careen off her hands into the left side of the net.
Peebles stopped everything else from there, as she and the Westhill defense did a solid job protecting the net and keeping the margin at one. However, it could not pull even, Rainone getting the best chance in the 52nd minute as she charged to the net, but goalie Margaret Choroser beat her to the ball.
This win sends Marcellus back to the sectional Class B final, where on Friday night it will take on top seed Lowville. At 18-0, the Red Raiders edged Solvay 1-0 in the quarterfinals and topped Ilion 4-1 in the semifinals to get this far.