Onondaga No one questioned that Westhill girls soccer goalkeeper Sam Peebles was the best performer on the field when the Warriors hosted Marcellus in an early-season showdown of the reigning Section III Class B powerhouses on a warm, steamy Tuesday evening.
Time and again, Mustangs forwards made charges toward the net. Nearly every time, Peebles had an answer for them, making a series of superb stops to keep the game close.
The only problem was that Westhill's own group of talented attackers did little to help Peebles, and that, plus a pair of successes from Brielle Filtch, helped Marcellus prevail by a score of 2-0.
Even as it worked toward another sectional title a season ago, Marcellus saw its dreams of an undefeated regular season get thwarted at Westhill with a 2-1 defeat, something that every Mustang remembered as it returned to the same turf 11 months later.
Though it took a few minutes for the attack to get going, soon enough Marcellus found gaps in Westhill's back line. A string of attackers, especially Filtch, Madi Belvito and Jada Sargeant, took direct runs at Peebles. Most of the time, Peebles was able to stop them.
So it remained 0-0 until the 22nd minute. Again, Filtch found her way past the Warriors for a solo run at the net. Having seen Peebles run up to meet her previous challenges, Filtch this time chose to wait a bit longer, and that split-second produced a clear shot that smashed into the top right corner of the net.
Up 1-0, the Mustangs' attacks continued in the minutes that followed. Peebles continued to dazzle, especially in the 31st minute, when Belvito crossed from the left side and Filtch hit a low shot that Peebles, out of sheer instinct, kicked away at the last moment.
Still looking at that one-goal deficit at halftime, Westhill again found itself under assault in the early portion of the second half. Peebles remained in top form, eventually working her way to 19 saves, and the game was still in doubt.