When the Westhill girls soccer team used a four-goal first-half blitz to put away Marcellus in the Section III Class B quarterfinals on Oct. 20, it appeared that the Warriors, despite its youthful lineup, were poised for more championship glory.
But that feeling only lasted until the sectional semifinals last Tuesday at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill’s Sheveron Field, where top seed Holland Patent put together a barrage of its own, only it was in the second half, to knock out Westhill 3-0.
From a standpoint of history and experience, the Warriors had all of it thanks to 14 sectional and three state crowns. By contrast, Holland Patent had never reached a sectional soccer final before.
However, the Golden Knights had gone 15-1 in the regular season and had risen to no. 5 in the state Class B rankings. HP had also beaten it two sectional playoff opponents (Mexico and VVS) by equal 3-0 margins.
Having started so well in its sectional games so far, Westhill expected the same in the first half here, but ran into an effective Golden Knights defense that would limit them to five shots, all stopped by Hayden Roberts.
So the game stayed 0-0 until the second half, when HP broke through with a goal and, flush with momentum, added two more to put the Warriors away. Alexis Johnson, Sara Rachon and Hannah Bochniak each found the net for the Golden Knights.
So as HP advanced to face Lowville in the sectional final, Westhill finished its first season under new head coach Ben Cassalia at 14-4-1, quite good considering that the roster had just one senior and could return virtually intact in 2019.
For West Genesee, the same fate awaited in the sectional Class AA playoffs as the no. 3 seed Wildcats’ frantic comeback bid in Wednesday’s semifinal against no. 2 seed Fayetteville-Manlius at Chittenango High School fell just short in a 2-1 defeat to the Hornets.
On the way to a 9-4-3 regular-season mark, WG had played F-M twice this fall and were shut out on both occasions. For a long while in this third encounter, the Wildcats were again shut down, rarely able to pressure the Hornets.
Meanwhile, F-M scored twice in a five-minute span of the first half. Ashley Carter got the Hornets in front off a feed from Hannah Knych, and Anna Hartzheim tacked on a second goal, unassisted.
That 2-0 deficit lingered into the second half, when the Hornets’ attack slowed. Suddenly WG was controlling the midfield, applying some pressure and getting some much-needed set pieces.
On one of them in the 57th minute, Jackie Vigliotti delivered a gem. From 30 yards out, Vigliotti’s free kick powered past F-M goalie Sabrina Suriani into the top right corner of the net.
Energized by that goal, WG stepped up its pace on both ends, rarely letting the Hornets attack while seeking a tying goal. The best chance came with four minutes left, where amid a scramble an F-M player may have brushed the ball with her hand, which would have resulted in a penalty kick, but it was not whistled.
Then, with two minutes left, the Wildcats got one more free kick from 40 yards out, Vigliotti hit it well, but none of her teammates could get a foot on the ball before Suriani grabbed it. F-M advanced to face defending state champion Baldwinsville in the sectional final.
Nov 13, 2018
Nov 13, 2018
Nov 13, 2018