Part of what’s turned into an annual affair for the Jamesville-DeWitt girls soccer team is the two-step process that makes up the regional portion of the state Class A playoffs.
Ten consecutive Section III titles has given the Red Rams plenty of experience in this extended process where two wins are required to reach the state final four.
For the 2018 edition, J-D would have the easier assignment first and the tougher game in the regional final, each of them played at Fulton on a field the Rams knew well from annual regular-season visits.
It was at Fulton that the regional round commenced last Tuesday night against Section X’s Massena. J-D was steady and productive, easily taming the Red Raiders 4-0.
Previous playoff games had included a goal in the third overtime to beat CBA, a late-game outburst after a scoreless first half against East Syracuse Minoa and a three-goal first half in the sectional final against Whitesboro.
Here, it fell in between those extremes, with J-D finding the net twice in the first half and twice more after intermission, all of it from Tonia Kousmanidis and Megan Baker, who had two goals apiece.
Sydney Baker and Grace Thomas chimed in with assists, and J-D’s defense held Massena to four shots, each of them turned away by Katie Cappelletti.
Now, the Class A regional final on Saturday at Fulton pitted J-D against Section II champion Averill Park, who was no. 5 in the state rankings. These two schools had a history of playing in regional games in girls basketball and softball.
And this one would end like most of them did on the basketball court, with the Red Rams triumphant and the Warriors frustrated in the wake of J-D’s hard-fought 1-0 victory.
Given the cold temperatures and high winds, it was little surprise that it took a while for both teams to warm up and get into any kind of rhythm, leading to a scoreless first half that only increased the tension level.
Twenty minutes of the second half elapsed and it remained 0-0. This put a heavier burden on the Rams’ defense, but Hayley Quackenbush, Arysa Lux, Ava Brazie and the rest of the back line kept AP quiet, and Katie Cappelletti stopped all six shots she faced.
Then, with 19:13 left in regulation, J-D’s patience on the attack paid off. Grace Dimkopoulos flashed open and, taking a pass from Megan Baker, fit the ball into the net, the only goal the Rams would need.
So again J-D finds itself making the trek south to the Cortland area on the second weekend of November, wondering if it this, finally, is the year it brings a state championship plaque home.
To get it, the Rams will have to get past state no. 1-ranked Spencerport (Section V) in Saturday night’s semifinal at 5:30 at Tompkins County Community College.
Spencerport beat J-D 2-1 in the 2016 state final and has not lost a game in two years, having shared the state title with Pearl River in 2017. These two will determine who faces Vestal (Section IV) or Valley Stream South (Section VIII) in Sunday’s final at 12:30 at Cortland High School.