Sep 30, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Any time the Marcellus and Westhill girls soccer teams gather, it’s bound to be memorable in some way, since they have monopolized Section III Class B for the last 15 years.
In the case of Wednesday night’s 2-1 victory by the Mustangs over the Warriors, it was how a pair of quick Marcellus strikes, combined with a solid and efficient defense, led to road success.
This was the first time Marcellus and Westhill had met since last year’s Class B final, which ended 0-0 with co-champions, the Warriors moving on to the state playoffs because it won the penalty-kick shoot-out.
And though a lot of personnel had changed, the stakes remained high, as the Mustangs and Warriors had spent the first half of the regular season racing to the top of the OHSL Liberty division standings again.
They met on a night with a playoff atmosphere – as in chilly temperatures in the 40s and infrequent rain, a good hint of what would be waiting at season’s end.
All the Marcellus players and coaches wore black armbands in honor of high school mathematics teacher Jody Karla, who passed away Saturday at the age of 32.
Going in, the consensus was that the key battle would be between high-scoring Westhill forward Kelly Ristoff and a stingy Mustang defense.
Yet it was Marcellus striking first, just 3:28 into the game on its first formal attack. Kim Duck took the ball at midfield, raced down the right side, then struck a perfect 25-yard shot just inside the right post and past Westhill goalie Meredith Rice.
Throughout the first half, Marcellus clung to the 1-0 lead with that defense. Erin Walter followed Ristoff, while Jessie Manahan, Christa Rockburn, Megan Tice and Annie Dailey forced Westhill into long, low-percentage shots that goalie Megan Tock could handle.
Twice, the Mustangs came close to making it 2-0. Mary Bailey used her body to prevent a sure goal off a corner kick just before halftime, and Gwen Dougherty (who replaced Rice in goal) had to make a leaping save on Becca Eddy’s point-blank shot early in the second half.
As the rain picked up, the Warriors kept probing – and finally tied it, 1-1, in the 65th minute, when Caroline Buonocore crashed a shot from the right side off the left post and behind Tock.
The tie didn’t last long. When a Westhill defender slipped on the wet grass with 12:10 to play, Leea Sinay picked up the ball and tore down the right side. When Sinay crossed to the middle, Dougherty went to the ball – but it slipped out of her hands, and Eddy swooped in to poke the ball into the unoccupied net.
Down a goal once more, the Warriors worked until the last seconds to force overtime. As time wound down, Ristoff got loose for one last run on the net, but Tock ran out and made the save to preserve the win.
Marcellus and Westhill will meet again Oct. 17 on the Mustangs’ home turf, less than two weeks before the Section III Class B playoffs start.