Westhill senior midfielder Jared Ristoff (22) celebrates his first-half goal with teammates Mike MacKnight (23) and Nick French (5) in Saturday’s Class B regional final against Oneonta at Liverpool High School Stadium, the Warriors going on to beat the Yellowjackets 3-1 to earn a trip to the state final four.
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.