Nov 10, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
The Westhill boys and Marcellus girls soccer teams may hail from rival schools, but in 2013 they were both motivated by the same thing as they entered the Class B regional playoffs.
Having repeated as Section III champions, the Warriors, on the male side, and the Mustangs, on the female side, wanted to atone for not making it past the regional round a year ago, and both wanted to get to the state final four.
They would both prove successful.
In Saturday’s Class B boys soccer regional final at Liverpool High School Stadium, Westhill used a pair of early goals to take control against Section IV champion Oneonta and eventually picked up a 3-1 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Hours later, at Chittenango High School’s turf, the Marcellus girls completed its successful run through the regional playoffs by blowing past Section VII champion Saranac 7-2.
For Westhill, an entire year had passed since it had outplayed Susquehanna Valley in the 2012 regional final, only to lose a painful 1-0 decision. Getting back to this point, and prevailing, had turned into an obsession, and playing on the same Liverpool turf where it rallied past Skaneateles 2-1 in the sectional final earlier in the week helped matters.
But the Warriors were not in the mood to fall behind, as it had done against Skaneateles. Instead, it jumped all over Oneonta, and to no one’s surprise, Barak BenYehuda was in the middle of the fray.
It was BenYehuda’s deft pass in the 18th minute that sprung Jared Ristoff for a solo run to the net, and Ristoff beat Yellow Jackets goalie Jeremy Leary to put Westhill in front. Then, with a spectacular run of his own four minutes later, BenYehuda found the net minutes later, doubling the Warriors’ lead to 2-0.
That’s where it stood at halftime, and it remained that way deep into the second half, Westhill’s defense turning back all of Oneonta’s charges.
But just as Warrior fans started to dream of a trip to Middletown, the Yellow Jackets got on the board with Theo Malone’s goal late in regulation, and followed up with an all-out assault on the Westhill net.
Somehow, Chris Burrows stopped all of the Yellow Jackets’ shot attempts, working his total to 10 saves (one more than Leary), and when Westhill earned a late free kick, senior captain Tom Kinsella delivered a perfectly placed strike into the net for the clinching goal with 4:33 left.
No such stress could be found at Chittenango, where the Marcellus girls soccer team had already achieved payback earlier in the week with a 2-0 shutout of undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Schalmont, the same team it lost into in this same regional round 12 months ago.
Saranac would prove a much easier foe to dispatch. Unlike with Schalmont, when both goals were scored in the second half, the Mustangs took just four minutes to get a 1-0 lead on the Chiefs as Madi Belvito got her team on the board.
Fueled by that early goal, Marcellus made it 3-0 as Jada Sargeant and Laura Dailey both found the net, this before Belvito returned to get her second goal to make it 4-0. Even when Saranac’s Amelia Jenks scored late in the half, it did little to dent the Mustangs as it led 4-1 at the break and had taken 12 shots to the Chiefs’ two.
What caused some concern, though, was seeing Saranac cut the margin to 4-2 early in the second half on Amy LoTemplio’s goal. Alerted to that danger, the Mustangs started to pull away for good when Filtch got past the Chiefs’ defenders and, on a solo run, beat Saranac goalie Jamie Favreau to make it 5-2.
Just to be sure, Marcellus tacked on goals from Molly MacLachlan and Clare Manahan. Emma Blystone got credit for a pair of assists, while Belvito, Sargeant, MacLachlan and Mia Montreal earned one assist apiece.
And now the Mustangs go back to SUNY-Cortland, where on Saturday at 5 p.m. it takes on Center Moriches (Section XI, Suffolk County, Long Island) in the state semifinals. A win there would put Marcellus into the finals Sunday at 4 p.m. against Oneonta or Hornell.
Having beaten Oneonta in its regional final, Westhill’s boys go to Middletown High School where, on Saturday at 8 a.m., it meets Livonia (Section V) in its state semifinal, hoping for a win there so it can play against Ichabod Crane or Carle Place in Sunday’s title game at 10:30 a.m.