Chittenango At first glance this fall, it appeared that the Manlius-Pebble Hill girls soccer team lagged far behind its neighbors from Bishop Grimes.
By the time they were done, though, it had all turned around. The Trojans now held sway, and it also had possession of the Section III Class C-2 championship.
In the third and most important encounter between MPH and Grimes in the C-2 final last Monday at Chittenango High School, the Trojans rode Terry Netusil’s pair of goals, and a lockdown defense, to a 2-0 victory over the Cobras.
Just a month ago, Grimes appeared on its way to a first-ever sectional title. It was undefeated, ranked in the state top five and, led by Alex Guhin, blasted MPH 3-0 in their first meeting.
But then the Trojans won the rematch 2-1 in the Oct. 20 regular-season finale, giving head coach Pat Bentley Hoke her 200th career win in the process. Then the two sides survived close calls throughout the sectional Class C-2 tournament to set up their championship tie-breaker.
Barely seven minutes had passed when Netusil, who had scored both goals in that Oct. 20 victory, struck what turned out to be the decisive blow.
Taking a pass near midfield, Netusil found her way past two Grimes defenders and, at just the right-time moment, delivered a shot that Cobras goalie Jillian Firenze had no chance of stopping.
Then it stayed 1-0 for a long time. Grimes settled down on the defensive end, maintaining that close margin, but it could get nothing started against an MPH defense that, over three games, had figured out the Cobras’ tendencies.
Still, the Trojans were not safe until the waning minutes, when Netusil picked up the ball again and, from 25 yards, smacked a clean and accurate shot into the net to seal the title, MPH’s first since 2007.
On Wednesday night, the Trojans are back at Chittenango, this time for the overall Class C final to meet Sauquoit Valley, the champions from 2009 and 2010, who knocked off defending champion Tully 2-1 in the C-1 title game.