MCS boys rebound in soccer play

By John Bernhardt
Like a Las Vegas table dealer, Margaretville boys’ soccer coach Jeremy Marks reshuffled his Blue Devils’ deck. Exchanging personnel back and forth between lines, Marks gave his team a new look. The Margaretville mix and match dealt Marks and his Blue Devils a winning hand.

Looking to find some firepower for an offense that had only scored two goals in the first three games, Marks gambled on the speed and aggressiveness of Ian Williams, Peter Cella and Kyle Short. The Blue Devils played their original hand with the three in the midfield, but the speedy trio moved to the forward line when the new hand was dealt. To help get his new senior forwards the ball with a chance to score, freshman Matt VanValkenburg shifted from the forward line to the midfield. VanValkenburg’s field vision and ability to distribute one-touch passes is a huge asset from that part of the field.

Strong defense
Senior Iso Desic continues to anchor Margaretville’s attack as center mid. Another senior, Marshall Bouton was moved from a defensive position as stopper to the midfield to help compensate for the loss of Williams and Cella to the forward line. Counting his cards, Marks inserted Victor Martinez into his scheme filling Bouton’s former spot as the stopper.

The new hand hit the jackpot in Hunter last Tuesday night. Goals by Desic and Williams were all the scoring the Blue Devils would need as they shut out Hunter-Tannersville, 2-0. Desic converted a direct kick midway through the opening half. Wiliams headed home a pass from Kyle Short late in the game as insurance.

Margaretville’s roll of good fortune continued on Friday night as they shut down Tri-Valley, 5-0, in the opening round of the Nelson Tournament in Downsville. Five Blue Devils; Kyle Short, Colby Russo, Kaleb Todd, Marshall Bouton, and Victor Mendoza found the nets for the hosts. Iso Desic spearheaded the attack with three assists.

The win catapulted Margaretville into the finals of the Nelson Tournament against defending champion Ellenville under the lights at Bard College on Saturday. This time, the revamped Blue Devil squad would not have enough to bring home the crown, but Margaretville played some spectacular soccer.

Margaretville’s bid to take the crown started with their defense. It was almost hard to believe the growth of the Blue Devils defense in just one week’s time. Every Blue Devil defender came up big as Margaretville shutout their opponents for over 200 consecutive minutes last week before allowing a score.

Sophomore James Warner played brilliantly turning lightning fast Ellenville forwards to the outside at least six times when Ellenville attacked deep into Blue Devils’ territory. Marshall Bouton was a rock on the defensive end, especially during the first half when Margaretville gave several starters a breather. Sean Gauntt provided excellent coverage assisting toward the wings, smartly electing to clear the ball out-of-bounds and allow the defense to set up when it seemed like the fleet-footed Ellenville forwards were getting the upper hand.

Adam Vanvalkenburg played 14 minutes of brilliant defense at the start of the second half before giving way to an ankle injury. And, Mitch Hull continued his stellar play tending the nets.
The contest went scoreless for almost 69 minutes, but the floodgates opened once the first scoring shot hit the back of the nets. That goal came off the foot of Ellenville’s Juan Victoria, a 35-yard missile.

Margaretville answered five minutes later. Peter Cella’s corner kick was batted away in front of the nets by Ellenville keeper Dominic Raimondo, but Iso Desic knifed through the middle and rifled a low line drive into the right hand corner of the nets.

The teams traded goals within two minutes of each other, igniting a wild finish. John Camacho fielded a short corner kick tap a few yard from the corner, then sliced a pass to Adrian Lopez streaking through the middle for an Ellenville score with 10:44 remaining. Desic sent a direct kick, banana ball from 20 yards away less than two minutes later to knot things up at 2-2.

Good fortune helped Juan Carlos Vargos nail the game winner on another corner with just 5:01 to play. Margaretville keeper Mitch Hull had the shot lined up, but the hard strike deflected off a Blue Devils defender’s leg, changed directions and found the nets.

Stop Ball Strikes Stop Lady Blue Devils
“We just haven’t had the time you need to work on all the situational things,” lamented Margaretville coach Toni Smith after she watched her team’s fortunes take a backwards turn last week. Smith’s Blue Devils lost almost two weeks of valuable practice time due to flooding during the preseason.

After beating South Kortright and winning the Downsville Tournament during their first game week, Smith hoped her team would continue to roll. But, the Blue Devils failure to mark up and defend stop ball situations cost them dearly last week. Hunter used two direct kick goals to break a 1-1 second half tie on Wednesday last week. Then, after Margaretville had grabbed a 2-1 lead at Roxbury the following night, the Rockets capitalized on another direct kick goal to earn a tie.

“I was disappointed in our effort at H-T,” noted Smith. “We played flat from the start, were consistently beaten to the ball, and never really got into the game.” Molly Constable nailed to the game winner for H-T with 12:08 to play on a direct kick just outside the 18.

Things started better for the Blue Devils the following night at Roxbury. Amy Filupeit’s shot from 18 yards out deflected off a Rocket defender to find the goal with 17:03 left to play in the opening half.

Roxbury answered five minutes later when Christina Chiarappa advanced the ball down the middle of the field and pounded a shot home. “Chiarappa was a real spark plug for Roxbury,” Smith explained. “She was very active in the middle of the field all night long.”

Smith was pleased with her team’s play during the second half. The Blue Devils finally got their passing game in gear and controlled much of the action but simply could not score. So, for the fourth time in six games, Margaretville needed overtime.

Freshman Elia Tanzer came up big again in the extra time, putting Margaretville ahead with 7:49 to go in the final added period. Cecilia Galatioto sent a cross that deflected off a Roxbury defender 10 yards out, and Tanzer was there to clean up for the score.

Chiarappa stepped up big for Roxbury with less than two-minutes left. A pushing call allowed Roxbury a direct kick just outside the 18. Kennedy Faraci sent a cross that was headed by Chloe O’Shaughnassy into a crowd. Chiarappa dug the ball out, tipping it past the Margaretville keeper for the tying score.

Margaretville is now 2-2-2 on the season. Roxbury stands at 1-3-2.