Nov 06, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just 40 minutes separated the Skaneateles boys soccer team from an unlikely Section III Class B championship as it led top seed Westhill at halftime of Tuesday night’s championship game at Liverpool High School Stadium.
But the Lakers could not quite finish it off. Defending its sectional title, the top-seeded Warriors got two second-half goals from senior captain Barak BenYehuda, and that proved enough to beat Skaneateles by a 2-1 margin.
Head coach Aaron Moss said his team, which started just three seniors, was doing just fine before the more experienced Westhill side started to force the issue in the second half.
“We knew we were playing well, and we were confident,” said Moss. “But then we felt some jitters, and they (Westhill) took it to us.”
These two teams had played twice in September. Both times, the Lakers lost by that same 2-1 margin, never leading in either of those contests.
But Skaneateles was a more confident team, having risen from its no. 7 playoff seed to beat no. 2 seed Clinton in the quarterfinals and avenge two regular-season defeats to Marcellus in the semifinals. Now it wanted to get the same payback against Westhill as it did against the Mustangs.
He first half included all kinds of ebb and flow. Westhill pushed hard early, but soon found itself in a defensive mode as Skaneateles took advantage of defensive confusion to get some close-up looks, and utilizing defender Nick Palmer for a series of effective throw-ins.
Then, in the 17th minute, Palmer sent another one of his throws to the middle. The ball took a high bounce off the turf and eluded Westhill goalie Chris Burrows long enough to have Sam Clymer one-time a shot into the net.
It was only the second time all season that the Warriors trailed. Sensing this, Skaneateles continued to push, but was unable to add to that 1-0 lead.
Then the Lakers had to go back into a defensive mode when Westhill’s attack resumed its aggressive approach late in the half, as BenYehuda and Tom Kinsella both missed point-blank chances to tie up the match.
Early in the second half, Lakers goalie Billy Patrick frustrated BenYehuda again with a tremendous save, one of 11 he would accumulate on the night. But half a minute later, at the 2:56 mark, BenYehuda, off a series of crisp passes (the last of them from Mike Parasczak), hit one that Patrick could not stop, tying it 1-1.
Energized by that goal, the Warriors kept pushing, wearing down the Laker defenders. Then, in the 52nd minute, BenYehuda again found himself in prime position, taking Kinsella’s terrific pass from the right side and firing home the go-ahead goal.
Down the stretch, Westhill’s defense, forgetting its early troubles, did a superb job protecting that one-goal lead. Fletcher Chapin, Jared Ristoff, Matt Perry, Alex Skeele and other back-line players turned away most of the Lakers’ chances, and Burrows worked his total to six saves. Clymer had the best chance to tie it with six minutes left, but his shot lofted just over the net.
Skaneateles finished with a 12-8 mark, yet has to feel good about what lies ahead. Moss said he was said that his seniors, including starters Tyler Strods, Mike Jorgensen and Jamie Roney, were unable to add this title in the Lakers’ four sectional finals appearance in six years.
However, the return of a large group of starters that includes Patrick, Clymer, Jack Bailey, Eli Goodell, Nick Palmer, Shawn Palmer, Sam Duggan and Andrew Weiss has the Lakers believing that 2014 could provide something more than a long post-season run.