Margaretville boys advance to semifinals as Lady Devils fall
By John Bernhardt
The Margaretville boys’ soccer team was backed up against the wall. With the clock showing less then 10 minutes to play, Margaretville trailed Roxbury, 2-1, in Friday’s Section IV quarterfinal contest, and you could feel the Blue Devils’ season slipping away.
But conditions changed with lightning-like ferocity. The Blue Devils received the first of a twin-engine rocket boost on a throw-in deep down the left sideline with just over nine minutes to play. Steve Amundsen powered a long missile, and Marcus Moore muscled his way inside to utilize his head to launch Amundsen’s volley high into the left-hand corner of the goal. Moore’s header evened the score at 2-2.
The goal ignited a burst of Blue Devil energy. Scrambling all over the field, Margaretville found the nets with the winning shot only two minutes later. This time, Abraham Morales got things going by driving the ball deep down the left side of the field. Josh Smith blasted a long Morales cross at the goal from point blank range. Somehow Roxbury goalie Garrett Hall stopped the bullet but the ball deflected off his chest in front of the nets. Greg Lehn was there to drive the rebound back into the nets for the game winner.
Prior to the final 10 minutes of play, Roxbury coach Tom Faraci had to be impressed with the play of his Rockets. Heavy underdogs entering the contest, Faraci’s Rockets were resilient and relentless.
Back on their heels, Roxbury withstood a barrage of Margaretville offense throughout much of the first half. Margaretville dominated the early play, repeatedly pounded at their goal and just missed several promising chances as the half unfolded.
Margaretville out shot their opponents at a 3-to-1 clip during the half, but it was Roxbury who would score first. Drawing a great deal of attention from the Margaretville defense, highly regarded Roxbury striker Ryan Skipper found the room to direct a cross that Owen Sanford finished to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Devils answered almost immediately. Greg Lehn penetrated the ball on the dribble deep down the right alley. Lehn lofted a perfect cross across the goal face. Roxbury goalie, Garrett Hall, and Margaretville striker, Josh Smith, became tangled as they battled to get a piece of the cross with both tumbling to the ground. Appearing to be almost behind the far post, Javier Martinez headed the ball into the open net to even the score.
Things remained deadlocked to the half. The Rockets emerged fired up and challenged for control of the midfield during the second half. The two teams locked into a classic battle, each logging legitimate attempts to break the tie.
Just before the midpoint of the final half, Roxbury’s Jamie VanDyke worked the ball past a Blue Devils’ fullback and drove to the end line on the right-hand side of the field. VanDyke placed a perfect cross finding Kevin Lutz unmarked at the far pole, and Lutz headed the ball home for the tiebreaker.
Roxbury continued their inspired effort, maintaining the upper hand until Moore found Amundsen’s throw-in for the header that turned the tide.
Garrett Hall put in a remarkable performance in the nets for Roxbury. Hall was aided by solid defensive work from Jacob Liberatore and David Clark. As the sweeper, Liberatore redirected charge after Blue Devil charge. Clark was stuck to Margaretville’s leading striker Josh Smith like glue, never wandering more than two or three strides from the gifted scorer.
Rockets oust Andes
Roxbury (12-6) reached the quarterfinals by besting Andes, 3-0, in a game played on their home field earlier in the week. In a game that was statistically even, the Rockets were far more opportunistic than their guests. Jamie VanDyke converted a one-on-one drive with the goalie 23 seconds into the contest when an Andes defender slipped and fell while playing the ball. VanDyke’s goal was the only score in the opening 40 minutes.
Ryan Skipper used a penalty shot to give Roxbury their second score. Skipper finished the scoring with a third goal later in the contest.
In winning, Margaretville moves one win away from a date at the Section IV finals. The Blue Devils must get past Morris, the Cinderella story of the Tri-Valley league. After a horrid start to the season, the 11th-seeded Mustangs are unbeaten in their last nine contests. Morris (10-7-3), went 3-13-2 last year and was struggling badly before getting things turned around in the middle of the season this fall. Morris upset defending Class D champion Cherry Valley, 1-0, in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Blue Devil girls “Upset Kids”
They would bend but not break. They faced adversity without so much as a blink of the eye. As their season unfolded without room for a mistake, the Margaretville girls’ soccer team played their best ball of the year.
Entering the final week of the regular season, the Blue Devils needed two wins to finish at .500 and qualify for the Section IV playoffs. No sweat. Margaretville upended Roscoe in a non-league match and then raced by Stamford in their final regular season game of the year.
In Section IV play, Margaretville drew number seven-seeded Milford, a team that had spanked the Blue Devils earlier in the year. To make matters worse the Blue Devils found themselves two goals behind with only eight minutes remaining in the game. No sweat. Margaretville solidified their status as “Upset Kids” by scoring two times to tie during the waning minutes of the game before bagging the game winner with only 19 seconds to play in the first overtime.
The string finally came to an end in Davenport Saturday in a quarterfinal game played on the Wildcats’ home field. By the final horn, the undefeated Wildcats knew they were in a fight, edging the “upset upstarts” from the south in a hard fought, 2-1 contest.
Erica Faulkner got the fun started by scoring an unassisted goal with 8:30 to play at Milford. Amanda Drizis found Amy Filupeit for the tying goal two minutes later.
It was Drizis and Filupeit again in overtime, this time with Drizis on the receiving end as Margaretville netted the winning goal just 19 seconds short of the end of the first overtime.
The late Margaretville rally nullified first half goals by Milford’s Emily Brigham and Tonya Aho.
Only the play of Davenport’s five-year star Chelsea Haight kept the Upset Kids from advancing once again in Saturday’s rain-soaked quarterfinals. The second seeded Wildcats improved their record to 18-0 by squeezing past the Blue Devils, 2-1.
Haight was the difference for the Wildcats. The talented senior scored her 35th and 36th goals of the year to help her team advance.
Haight’s first goal came on a restart from just outside the box. Haight slammed a low liner through a wall of defenders and past a screened MCS keeper Sarah Balka for the score. Haight struck again 11 minutes into the second half, this time converting a through-ball from Sabrina Lawrence.
Margaretville tried to spin their upset magic once again. The Blue Devils used a Michelle O’Reilly direct kick to whittle the Wildcat advantage to a single goal with 16:31 to play.
Margaretville nearly tied things up with time running out, when an offensive charge resulted in a strong shot on goal that was deflected by Davenport goalie, Katie Goss. The ball deflected off Goss toward a Margaretville striker who sent another shot, with the tender down, toward the open goal. Only a heroic save from defender Lauren Rider prevented the tie.
The late season flurry helped Margaretville end their season at 9-9. Only one senior, Casey Hubbell, will graduate from the Blue Devils squad leaving coach Toni Smith and her Blue Devils with a promising future.