September 27, 2012
Okay, half a season is in the books. Once you start feeling a chill in the air on a regular basis, you know that the games are about to get a lot more meaningful.
That's certainly true in soccer, girls and boys alike. Every day seems to feature some sort of important game, whether it's Remsen (no. 1 in the state in Class D girls) taking an overtime defeat to Holland Patent on a Shay Callahan penalty kick or, later this week, two unbeatens in the state top 10, Manlius-Pebble Hill and Bishop Grimes, in the first of two classics.
Among the small schools, there's no shortage of high ambition, whether it's from Remsen, after a third straight state final four, to MPH, Grimes and Sauquoit Valley, all poised to dislodge Tully in Class C. There, the mystery will persist all the way to the playoffs.
No mystery in Class B, really. Marcellus sets the pace, with its balance and depth very difficult to handle. Westhill pushed them to overtime, but most of the time the Mustangs have handled things, though watch out for Cazenovia because Kristie Klein has been on a September scoring binge.
Whitesboro announced its challenge to J-D in Class A when it went to Liverpool and knocked off those other Warriors in overtime as Ashley Williams scored a hat trick - all in OT for a 6-3 win. Maybe J-D is not as overwhelming as seasons past, but the return of Jessica Holmes from a brief injury should make the Red Rams whole again.
At this point Baldwinsville has inched out in front in Class AA, the key game a 2-1 thriller over F-M, whose start was just as strong. Way too soon, though, to dismiss the champs from Liverpool, who got big wins over C-NS and West Genesee this week, even if they were 1-0 margins, and are starting to get over the loss of key midfielder Julia Heberger to a torn ACL.
Now to the boys side, where Hamilton is trying to win yet another state title in Class D. Yes, it ended up 0-0 between the Emerald Knights and archrival Poland earlier this week, but Hamilton also scored 11 against Canastota, and Cincinnatus is a serious threat, too, owning the no. 2 state ranking.
Tully is defending the Class C title, but it's Cooperstown that's placed in the state top 10, and it's Manlius-Pebble Hill that's undefeated and ready for its own big push. Westhill and Skaneateles are the strongest sides in Class B so far, and play close attention to the Warriors-Lakers showdown in early October (Westhill won 1-0 early this month). Don't forget about Cazenovia, either.
Fowler and CBA, the newcomers to Class A, might be the teams to beat. The Falcons, in particular, have been sensational, knocking off CBA and defending champion ESM on the way to a no. 5 state ranking. Wouldn't it be great for a city school, down in sports for so long, to get a championship?
While it's been close at the top of Class AA, Liverpool appears to have the most answers, with lots of offensive threats and a sound defense. Absent a sectional title for a decade, the Warriors have already beaten C-NS and outplayed the five-time champs from Baldwinsville, even if it ended 2-2 earlier this month. The Bees haven't dropped off too far, either, and they were underdogs before when they won it all.