MCS boys' team advances with sectional win over H-T
By Julia Green
After a week of practices, the Margaretville boys were ready and raring to go when they faced the visiting Wildcats of Hunter-Tannersville in the second round of the Section IV Class D Tournament at MCS on Saturday. The Blue Devils, who were playing their first sectional game after receiving a first-round BYE, posted a convincing 5-1 win over Hunter to advance to the semifinal round of the tournament.
“There’s always concern about such a long layoff,” said Margaretville Head Coach Jeremey Marks. “You’re taking a full seven days in between games, your opponent plays a game and kind of gets in the flow again, so there’s a concern. But with these guys, it wasn’t as big a concern as it has been in the past because I thought we had a really good week of practice. We had to stay in shape and I really pushed them and they responded and prepared themselves mentally and physically for this game.
“I saw a focus that, even on game day, that it was business,” he added. “I saw a focus in warm-ups and in the first 20 minutes that showed me we were ready.”
The Margaretville boys appeared to have a surplus of energy in the opening minutes but soon settled into a rhythm with their passing game, utilizing space along the flanks and sending the ball into the box. They capitalized on that passing game just over seven minutes into the game, when Javier Martinez put the Blue Devils on the board, finishing off a pass from Tyler Smith.
“It’s important to score early,” Marks said. “Especially at home, you want to get that first goal. We lost the coin toss, so we were against the wind, which, with our style of play, we try to keep the ball on the ground anyway, but the first goal’s a big goal, obviously. And we had some other chances, but Hunter’s keeper made a couple nice saves and it could have easily been two or three to nothing.”
The Blue Devils took the one-goal lead into halftime, during which Marks emphasized to his team the importance of coming out strong in the second half and not giving Hunter the opportunity to get back in the game.
“We talked about how the first 10 or 15 minutes were crucial to setting the tone for the second half,” Marks said. “We wanted to make a statement. We wanted to come out and play well.”
The Blue Devil offense struck again early in the second half, when Abraham Morales bent a ball toward the far post, which found the net to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead just nine minutes into the half.
The Wildcats struck back two minutes later, converting on a penalty kick awarded when Margaretville defender Iso Desic was whistled for obstruction inside the box for attempting to shield the ball away from a Hunter attacker. The Blue Devils retaliated, however, scoring two goals in less than a minute to widen Margaretville’s lead to 4-1.
“I was proud of how we responded, because that PK cut it to 2-1 and it could have been a big shift in momentum,” Marks said. “But to our credit, the guys came out and within the next two minutes, they scored two goals within a minute, and it showed me that the guys didn’t want this one to slip away, and it kind of fired us up a little bit.”
With Saturday’s win, the Blue Devils advance to the semifinal round of the Section IV Class D tournament, where they will face third-seeded Candor at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame Complex in Oneonta. A win on Wednesday would send Margaretville to the sectional championship for the second time in two years.
“These guys have done a pretty good job focusing on one game at a time, and we don’t know that much about Candor,” Marks said. “But we know they’re going to be a good team and at this point in the tournament we have to raise our level of play that much higher as we try to advance to each level. Using past experiences, our guys know how tough this next game is, to get an opportunity to play in the finals, so we’ll have to play well, play within ourselves, and play our game.”
The undefeated Margaretville boys entered the tournament at the No. 2 seed with a 14-0-1 overall record; they are currently 15-0-1. Candor defeated No. 11 Laurens 2-1 at Candor on Saturday to advance to the semifinal.
“I thought it was a great crowd on Saturday,” Marks said. “It was a nice atmosphere, it was a nice send-off to our seven seniors, it being their last home game. I think they wanted to go out of their last home game on a positive note, and they did. It was a nice crowd, a nice atmosphere, and we hope that those same people come out to Oneonta to support us.”