What was established through 2 ½ games by the East Syracuse Minoa boys soccer team against its neighbors from Jamesville-DeWitt n nearly got undone at the worst time possible.
The no. 2 seed Spartans established a quick two-goal lead in last Thursday’s Section III Class A quarterfinal, only to find itself hanging on to the final moments to put away the no. 7 seed Red Rams in a 2-1 thriller.
A large crowd at Spartan Stadium was curious to see if ESM could pull off the difficult feat of topping J-D three times in a single season, having earned a pair of 2-0 shutouts in September.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to make it 2-0 here, either, starting with Kyle Scalzo weaving through several Rams defenders before hitting a shot off Alex Carbacio’s hands into the net 5:44 into the game.
Less than eight minutes later, that margin doubled as ESM earned a corner kick and Ty Mulcahy passed it to Safet Suljic, whose shot from the point found the target.
Perhaps surprised by that quick lead, ESM eased up on the attack enough that J-D could regroup on defense. For the rest of the night, any Spartans charges were repelled, Carbacio and David Tyler combining for 13 saves.
Meanwhile, a sporadic Rams attack roared to life in the second half. At least three different times, J-D had open shots with ESM goalie Ryan Cacace out of position, only to have various defenders make spectacular kick saves on the goal line.
Unfazed by this, the Rams cut its deficit in half when Joe Bertone scored with 9:19 to play. The final minutes proved frantic, with J-D getting more great chances and Cacace, who finished with 11 saves, having to charge to make one more key stop as time ran out.
Having survived this, ESM could look ahead to a sectional semifinal Wednesday at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium against no. 6 seed and defending champion New Hartford. The winner would advance to the finals against Fulton or Watertown, who would playt he other semifinal at Spartan Stadium.
In the Class D sectional tournament, Manlius-Pebble Hill started out as the no. 3 seed, in a great position to earn its first sectional championship since 2010.
The Trojans had no trouble in last Wednesday’s opening round, handling no. 14 seed Remsen 4-0. Near the midway point of the first half, Simon Hoke scored to get MPH on the board.
Josh Hutko, while falling to the turf, managed to belt home a second goal just before halftime. It stayed 2-0 until Hoke returned to convert a second goal with 10 minutes left, and Naldo Chen converted in the final minutes as Gopal Neopaney and Carl Beach joined Hutko in the assist column.
For the Class D quarterfinals, MPH faced no. 12 seed Brookfield, who had stunned no. 5 seed Fabius-Pompey 1-0 to get this far. And it was nervous for a while before the Trojans took over late to defeat the Beavers 3-1.
Tyrell Owen’s goal gave Brookfield a 1-0 edge, and it remained that way until the second half, when the Trojans, overcoming 15 saves from Beavers goalie Fred King, struck three times.
Hatko had two of those goals, with Beach also converting. Hoke picked up an assist as MPH’s defense got better, stifling Brookfield with 11 saves from Stew Falso.
MPH would face no. 2 seed Lyme in the Class D sectional semifinals Thursday at Chittenango, the winner to get top seed Bishop Ludden or no. 4 seed Poland in Monday’s title game.
Up in Class AA, Christian Brothers Academy drew the no. 6 seed and put on a spirited bid to upend no. 3 seed and defending champion Liverpool in last Thursday’s AA quarterfinal, but fell just short in a 1-0 defeat to the Warriors.
Both defenses were in top form, and scoring chances were rare, but the difference was that Liverpool took advantage of one of them early, Justin Lombard flashing open and putting a shot past CBA goalie Matt Buck in the first half.
To its credit, the Brothers’ defense locked down from there, limiting Liverpool and forcing the hosts to defend a slim lead for a long while. Yet the Warriors were up to it, limiting CBA to six shots, all stopped by Ben White.
Bishop Grimes, the no. 12 seed in Class C, saw its sectional tournament end with a 3-1 first-round defeat to no. 5 seed Beaver River, who recorded its first-ever sectional playoff win in the process.
On the receiving end of that bit of history, the Cobras managed a goal by Deng Mawien, but surrendered goals to Zach Mast, Dawson Gerdon and Lincoln Becker, with Mast adding an assist. Grimes finished its season with a 9-8 record.