Nov 02, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Make that four consecutive Section III Class A championships for the Jamesville-DeWitt girls soccer team, none of them more difficult to attain than this one.
An early goal, caused by an opponent’s mistake, pushed the no. 2 seed Red Rams ahead of top seed Whitesboro, but J-D held on from there to edge the Warriors 1-0 in Thursday night’s title game at Chittenango High School.
It marked the third consecutive time that the Rams have beaten Whitesboro in the finals. However, this was a stark contrast to 2010 and 2011, when J-D clearly had the superior team on the field and had little trouble pulling away from the Warriors.
This Whitesboro edition came into the title game with a 17-1 record, which included two regular-season wins over defending Class AA champion Liverpool. In the trio of Ashley Williams, Mariah Williams and Jennifer Deuel, the Warriors offered three proven offensive options.
J-D head coach Hayley Nies said there was no special game plan to deal with the Warriors.
“We planned to play like we normally do,” she said. “We had to know at all times where those three players (Deuel and the Williams sisters) were.”
That defensive assignment took on more meaning after the strange way in which J-D seized the lead just 5:01 into the game. Off a corner kick set up by a fine run by Jessica Holmes, the ball bounced around the crease and, after Holmes shot it, Whitesboro defender Mary Pastorelli accidentally flicked it back into her own net.
Instead of sulking, Whitesboro gradually picked up its attack and, midway through the first half, began the domination of the flow of play that would mark the rest of the evening.
Time and again, the Warriors’ midfielders and forwards pushed their way into J-D’s end, only to meet a series of obstacles from Rams defenders Caroline Kopp, Maddy Frank, Maggie Austin and Julia Slisz, who replaced an injured Erin Brinley earlier this season.
This quartet, all sophomore except for Austin (a junior), offered the protection, but goalkeeper Allison Butler still had to handle her fair share of shots.
As the second half wore on, the Warriors’ pressure picked up. No moment was more alarming than the scramble in the 65th minute, where Butler was out of position for a possible tying shot – only to have Kopp kick the ball away on the goal line.
Ashley Williams got one more free kick, from 20 yards out, with five minutes to play, but Butler caught it, one of nine saves she made on the night.
J-D’s sectional title was particularly special for Holmes and Maddy Devereaux, the team’s two lone seniors, who have been a part of all four championship sides, dating back to 2009.
“We’re a young team, but having Jessica and Maddy is special,” said Nies. “They know what it takes to get there.”
Now comes the elusive part, as J-D for a fourth time goes into the state tournament, still in search of its first final four appearance. It will again meet Burnt Hills, winners of the last nine Section II titles, Tuesday at Fulton in the opening regional round.