Nov 09, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A decade-long wait for the Liverpool girls soccer team to stand alone atop the Section III Class AA ranks has ended.
Fueled by senior Kim Murphy’s goal and assist in the second half, the Warriors fought past Christian Brothers Academy 3-2 in Tuesday night’s AA final at Fulton.
“It feels great,” said head coach Kevin McGrane, a Liverpool graduate himself. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. I’m proud of their determination and fight.”
Not since 2001 had the Warriors won an outright sectional title. It shared championships in 2003 and 2005, but lost penalty-kick shoot-outs on both occasions and did not advance to the state tournament.
Liverpool did not want to share anything this time. Even as a favorite in the sectional final, the Warriors knew that CBA had knocked off top seed and defending champion Baldwinsville 2-0 in the semifinals on Nov. 2, and could not afford to be taken lightly.
So almost from the moment the game kicked off, Liverpool waged an all-out attack. It spent the game’s first 30 minutes keeping the Brothers in a defensive mode, earning six corner kicks and getting all kinds of chances to move in front.
Yet it only had a 1-0 lead when the flurry was done, and that came in the 22nd minute when Kayla Whalen’s low crossing attempt got inadvertently deflected into the net by a CBA defender. McGrane said this had him worried.
“If we don’t capitalize early, it sets up a dangerous situation,” he said.
Sure enough, less than three minutes before halftime CBA, who had started to get its own series of chances, tied it 1-1 when Eva Gordon, off a corner kick, sneaked in a low pass to the middle that Michelle Wiese fired past Warrior goalie Tori Corsaro.
Flush with momentum, CBA carried the flow of play early in the second half, too, and Corsaro had to run out in the 47th minute to make a tumbling save before Gordon could sneak in the go-ahead goal.
Gradually, the Warriors started to regain control, setting up the pivotal free kick in the 58th minute. From 25 yards out, Murphy, a four-year member of the varsity, lofted the ball and, screened off by Warrior players, never saw it until it was over her head and into the net.
Liverpool didn’t sit on its 2-1 lead, getting a series of chances throughout the stretch. With 1:53 left, Murphy, who had twice hit the post with corner kicks, hit a cross from the right side that Alexis Kline flicked into the net to double the Warriors’ margin.
That turned out to be the game-winner because, with 1:02 to play, Liverpool got whistled for a handball inside its own 18-yard box, and CBA’s Michelle Wiese converted the penalty kick. But the Brothers ran out of time before it got a real chance to pull even.
On Saturday, the Warriors go to Stillwater, north of Albany, to face the Section II champion (Shenendehowa or Bethlehem) in the Class AA regional final. The winner of that contest advances to the Nov. 19-20 state final four in the Cortland/Homer area.
“We need to finish on opportunities and stay strong in the back,” said Murphy.
CBA, who finished at 12-5-1, loses just one starter – Wiese – as the two other seniors on the roster, Courtney Henderson and Taylor Gait, were lost to injuries.
The return of everyone else, including Gordon, Evans, Alyssa Pitonzo, Olivia Pitonzo, Chloe Germain, Maddie Calkins, Gabby Carni and Alyssa Radziewicz, makes the Brothers an instant contender in 2012.