With so much history, and so many important games, between them, the Westhill and Marcellus girls soccer team figured to have another memorable battle Saturday night in the Section III Class B quarterfinals.
And it was memorable – for the Warriors, anyway.
Four goals in the game’s first 25 minutes helped no. 4 seed Westhill put this game away early, and it beat the Mustangs 4-0 to advance to the sectional semifinals against top seed Holland Patent.
Combined, Westhill and Marcellus have claimed 21 of the last 25 sectional Class B championships, often having to go through each other in the later rounds.
Most of the time, though, it was the Mustangs getting the best of this fierce rivalry in the post-season, something that the Warriors, even with a young roster in 2018 (just one senior), was desperate to change.
Their regular-season meeting on Oct. 5 ended 1-1, but what proved a much larger factor was the way the sectional Class B tournament played out.
Westhill got paired with no. 12 seed Homer in the round of 16 on Wednesday and easily won, 5-0, while Marcellus was pushed to overtime by no. 13 seed Solvay, and while the Mustangs pulled it out, 1-0, the game may have taken enough of a toll.
And it didn’t take long for the Warriors to jump out in front of Marcellus – just 85 seconds, to be precise, as Lauren Holstein’s hard shot from the right side eluded Kendall Koloski and found the top left corner of the net.
Barely five minutes later, it was 2-0, with Ciarra Rudnick connecting on her own long-distance attempt, and while the Warriors were encouraged by this start, it was far from satisfied.
In fact, when the Mustangs’ defense turned the ball over in the 16th minute, Erica Gangemi pounced and curved in a left-footed shot. Gangemi returned in the 25th minute to put home a rebound to stretch out the margin to four.
All through the rest of the game, Westhill’s defense, led by Lauren Marshall, Reilly Geer and Brooke Zollo, frustrated the Mustangs’ forwards, limiting them to five shots, all stopped by Lauren Bendall.
Back in that round of 16, Marcellus had its battle with Solvay, while Westhill, foreshadowing what it would do against the Mustangs, had an early outburst to put away no. 12 seed Homer as it eventually prevailed 6-0 over the Trojans.
Marcellus may have expected something similar to its 4-0 win over Solvay nine days earlier, but instead found itself stymied by the Bearcats throughout the 80 minutes of regulation.
The Mustangs took 17 shots overall, but less than half were on target as Solvay goalie Haley Muehl made seven saves overall and kept it 0-0 well into the first of two mandatory 10-minute OT periods.
But at the 7:39 mark Marcellus senior midfieler Emma Holzwarth positioned herself at the back post and, getting a cross from Sarah Fallon, sent the shot past Muehl – the game-winner, as it turned out.
None of this drama was found at Westhill, for in the first 40 minutes the Warriors smashed Homer for five goals, as many as it had the entire game when it beat these same Trojans on Sept. 18.
In the middle of it all was Gangemi, who scored twice and piled up three assists as Rudnick also got two goals, plus an assist. Sophia Caron and Brooke Zollo had the other goals, with Marshall and Stephanie Falcone picking up assists.
By beating Marcellus, the Warriors ended the Mustangs’ season at 12-3-3 and now could look ahead to the sectional semifinal Tuesday at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill against Holland Patent, who blanked Mexico and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill by 3-0 margins in its first two playoff games. The winner goes to the sectional final at SUNY-Cortland this weekend against Clinton or Lowville.