Oct 19, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Up until now, Laurie Updike had never coached a Marcellus girls soccer team that had pulled off an undefeated regular season.
But the 2007 edition of the Mustangs have pulled it off, saving its toughest assignment — and best performance for the last of those 18 tests.
It came Thursday afternoon, at Cazenovia’s Sean Goggin Sports Complex, where Marcellus fought through a first-rate opponent and took over in the late stages, beating the Lakers 2-0.
Updike said her players continue to believe in each other, even though it lost both Kellie Walter and Brittany Buza for the season to torn ACL’s in recent weeks.
That belief would face a severe test in Cazenovia. The Lakers were 15-2 and had put a serious scare into Marcellus in their first regular-season encounter Sept. 24 (the game where Walter was injured) before the Mustangs emerged with a 2-1 win.
Here, Cazenovia played even better in the first half, often putting the Mustangs on the defensive as it faced both the speedy Laker attackers and a headwind.
“They’re a formidable opponent and played really hard,” said Updike.
However, the Mustangs’ defense remained formidable. Marissa Bankey and Brittany Fellows have both ably filled Walter’s role in a four-back set that also includes Emily Garrant, Alicia Hunt and Stephanie Raven. Together, they blocked Cazenovia’s path, and kept the game at 0-0 going into the break.
Cazenovia’s own plans would backfire. It decided to hold Senior Day activities at halftime, stretching the break out to 15 minutes. As it turned out, that was plenty of time for the Lakers’ early energy to disappear — while Marcellus refreshed, and got ready to take over.
Now with the wind advantage, the Mustangs gradually asserted control, using its strong conditioning to wear down a Cazenovia squad that does not possess as much depth.
Fatigue can lead to mistakes, such as the one that, with 14:03 left, turned the game permanently in the Mustangs’ favor.
Rachel Farneti’s corner kick got tangled up inside the Lakers’ 18-yard box. Amid that, one of the Cazenovia players got caught with a handball — an automatic penalty kick.
Sarah Holden took the kick, and though Lakers goalkeeper Clare Dorsey guessed right on where the shot would go, Holden still ripped it inside the top right corner of the net. Marcellus had a 1-0 lead.
Now with even more energy, the Mustangs applied the finishing touch to an undefeated regular season with 8:28 left as Holden, off another great pass from Farneti, crushed a low shot past Dorsey into the left side of the net.
The warm-ups for Cazenovia began last Monday, when the Mustangs hosted Jordan-Elbridge and earned a 4-0 victory over the Eagles.
It was just 1-0 at halftime, far closer than anyone could have expected, but Marcellus wore J-E down as Deana Melnyczuk scored twice to lead an attack where plenty of players contributed.
Lindsey Forte and Bridget Dooley each had goals, with Rachel Farneti, Sarah Holden and Jenna Sniffen earning assists. J-E goalies Sarah Fordyce and Meghan Peters combined to make 10 saves.
A day later, the Mustangs finished up the Sept. 26 game at Westhill stopped by rain and lightning in the first half.
When it resumed, Marcellus took care of matters in an efficient way, beating the Warriors by the same 4-0 margin by which it handled J-E.
Melnyczuk, Holden, Forte and Chelsea Tarolli all took turns earning goals, as Dooley, Emily Hunt and Kelsey Cavaretta came up with assists. The Mustangs’ defense continued to keep teams from getting near Lauren Fletcher, who had to make just six saves for her latest shutout.
The conquest of Cazenovia followed, and now all that’s left is to see if regular-season domination continues in the most meaningful part of the year.
The Class B playoffs start next week. No matter the seed, though, the goal is the same. Updike said her team is bent on matching the glory of the Mustangs’ state Class B title teams of 2003 and ’04.
“We have a slogan — ‘Tradition Never Graduates’,” she said. “These girls have something to prove for the group (that came) before them.”