October 22, 2012
Sometime late on Tuesday afternoon, the portion of the girls soccer season where every game ends someone's dreams of ultimate glory gets underway.
The process takes nearly four weeks to go from opening round of Section III play until the last state championship plaque is handed out in the Cortland/Homer area on Nov. 17. It's a thrilling, harrowing, exciting, emotional, glorious and sad story, all at once.
We start our previews in Class AA, and it's a small field. Just eight teams, which means no one gets started until Thursday night, when all the quarterfinals take place.
Despite its fast finish, defending champion Liverpool still had to settle for the no. 2 seed and a game against a West Genesee side that just lost a narrow 2-1 decision to the Warriors on Saturday. By contrast, no. 3 seed C-NS just flattened Rome Free Academy 6-0, and to imagine a turnaround in the quarterfinal rematch is quite a stretch.
Baldwinsville, again holding the top seed (where it lost in the semifinals a year ago), had to take encouragement from the superhuman effort of Jaclyn Hingre in a 1-0 win over C-NS last week. The Bees should handle Auburn, and though CBA could await again in the semifinals if it beats no. 4 seed F-M, the Brothers aren't nearly as dangerous a season ago, while the Hornets, strong early this fall, has been far more inconsistent in October.
Another reigning champ, J-D, is after a fourth straight Class A title - and like Liverpool, the Red Rams work from a no. 2 seed in an 11-team field. Camden has quietly put together an 11-4-1 season to snare the no. 3 seed, and might be the only team that can keep the Red Rams from a finals return.
Whitesboro richly earned the top seed, especially since it beat Liverpool twice during the regular season, including a 2-1 decision last week right in the middle of the AA champs' hot late-season run. Yet these Warriors could get a tricky quarterfinal with fast-closing ESM if the Spartans make it through its first game with Carthage. Neither Fulton nor Indian River seem like a major threat this time.
Class B's bracket sure seems top-heavy because Marcellus and Westhill are each in the same half, with the Mustangs a top seed and the Warriors a no. 5 seed. Don't forget, though, that Skaneateles is the no. 4 seed, and quite capable of upending Westhill in the quarterfinals if both make it that far, and Bishop Ludden is a dangerous no. 8 seed, having tied Marcellus late in the regular season.
South Jefferson, as the no. 2 seed in Class B, has a lot more to prove, and could face trouble in the quarterfinals if Cazenovia, with the explosive Kristie Klein in charge of the attack, makes it past Sherburne-Earlville in the opening round. Clinton is a solid no. 3 seed, but like South Jefferson it did not face the brutal sort of competition that the OHSL Liberty sides had to deal with. Watch out, too, for no. 6 seed Holland Patent, who has beaten Remsen this fall.
Class C again split into C-1 and C-2 sides. with nothing lopsided about them. C-1 has Sauquoit Valley, who nearly won state titles in 2009 and 2010 and is again a top seed this time, while Lowville, the Class B champs a year ago, moved down and is a very quiet no. 4 seed, about to face Watertown IHC in the quarterfinals. Tully, the reigning champs, can't be forgotten as the no. 3 seed, especially since Thousand Islands is a no. 2 seed that has to prove itself.
C-2 merely has the burgeoning Bishop Grimes-Manlius-Pebble Hill rivalry turned up to 11. Grimes, the top seed, won the first meeting, but MPH claimed the rematch on Saturday to give coach Patricia Bentley her 200th career win. As the no. 3 seed, the Trojans have to be careful against Fabius-Pompey in the quarterfinals, while no. 2 seed West Canada and no. 4 seed Sandy Creek both must step up against the favorites from the OHSL Patriot side.
You would think that Remsen is a prohibitive favorite in Class D. Two-time defending champs, off back-to-back state final four visits, burning to win it all knowing that the O'Connor sisters are seniors. Erin has merely scored 53 goals this fall, an average of better than a hat trick every single game. Just amazing.
And yet Remsen is the no. 3 seed because Poland doesn't care one bit about the O'Connor legend. The Tornadoes stunned the Rams 2-1 a week ago on Mikayla Blumenstock's goal with 15 seconds left in regulation, and with that, Poland rose up to the top seed with its 15-1 mark.
But that doesn't mean the Tornadoes have it easy, for even if Poland breezes to the semifinals, it could get Copenhagen or McGraw, who are both strong sides. Meanwnhile, Cincinnatus lines up as the no. 2 seed with its 14-1-1 record, ahead of 14-2 Remsen, which could lead to quite a fun semifinal should the Rams and Lions get that far.