Nov 03, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Overtime had arrived again for the Marcellus girls soccer team in Friday night’s Section III Class B final, just as it had a year ago when the Mustangs had to settle for a co-championship with Lowville and was beaten in penalty kicks.
This time around, the Mustangs would settle the matter long before a shoot-out was required.
Freshman Madison Belvito’s goal just 1:31 into the first OT period held up for the rest of the extra sessions, and Marcellus beat Clinton 2-1 in a cold, wet and windy Class B title game at Chittenango High School.
“It means a ton,” said Marcellus head coach Laurie Updike. “They were so determined after what happened last year, and they wanted to bring this home to Marcellus.”
The top-seed Mustangs did so because it was patient on the attack against Clinton, a no. 3 seed that, in pursuit of its first-ever sectional title, had no intention of rolling over.
Right from the start, said Updike, the Mustangs tried to exploit gaps in the Clinton defenses. That meant sending the speedy Belvito up the right side, and she often made profitable runs deep into Warrior territory to set up scoring chances.
That didn’t produce anything during a 0-0 first half, since Clinton still was able to protect the middle of the field and its goalkeeper, Marissa Cornelius, was able to make crucial stops.
The Warriors had its best early chance 9:50 into the game when Hannah Shankman’s hard shot crashed off the crossbar, but the back line of Meghan Witkowski, Shannon Donahue and Alana Montreal shut down most of Clinton’s other attacks.
They were still scoreless when, in the 51st minute the Mustangs went ahead 1-0. After a long series of throw-ins moved the ball into the left corner, Abby Fallon sent a curling pass to the net, where amid a scrum Belvito poked it past Cornelius.
From there, it looked like the Mustangs would easily put away the Warriors as it continued to attack. But a stunning sequence late in regulation made things a lot more difficult.
Brielle Filtch got open for a point-blank look with 8:40 to play, but Cornelius made a terrific save. Fired up by that, the Warriors attacked again, and with 6:26 left Shankman, taking a pass from the right side by Maureen Lewis, fired a hard shot past Margaret Choroser.
It was the first goal Marcellus had allowed in the entire sectional playoffs. And despite some hard pressure from the Mustangs, it stayed 1-1 at the end of regulation.
“It (the goal) did jolt us a bit,” said Updike. “But it jolted us the right way.”
Going into the OT period, said Updike, she told her players to back up each other on the defensive side, just to make sure that Clinton did not get any open territory on the way to the net.
Of course, it’s less stressful to defend with a lead. Barely a minute into the first of two mandatory 10-minute OT periods, Molly MacLachlan sent a long, accurate pass to the right side. Belvito sprinted to it, and when Cornelius ran out to meet her, Belvito flicked the ball past her into the unoccupied net for what proved to be the winning goal.
“You can’t teach speed,” said Updike of Belvito’s ability to charge into the other end. “If used correctly, it can pay big dividends.”
Solid defense the rest of the way allowed the Mustangs to hang on for another sectional banner. Marcellus has won or shared seven of the last 10 Class B titles.
The Mustangs play unbeaten, defending state champion Schalmont (Section II) Tuesday night at Fulton in the first round of the Class B regionals. Two more wins are needed for Marcellus to return to the state final four, set for Nov. 16-17 in the Cortland/Homer area.