MCS soccer teams earn Crossover co-championships

in

By John Bernhardt
Margaretville goalie Mitch Hull could see the entire field in front of him, and he didn’t like what he saw. Margaretville had been whistled for a foul and South Kortright senior Dylan Cole was cuing the ball up for a direct kick, six or seven strides beyond midfield on SK’s offensive side of the field. With time melting on the clock and Margaretville clinging to a 1-0 lead, Hull’s teammates succumbed to protective instincts and retreated to cluster deep on their defensive end in front of the goal.

Hull understood the relationship that exists between where defenders stand and where offensive opponents can stake out positions around the goal. The farther his Margaretville teammates pushed forward, the more space away from the goal SK’s intended receivers would be forced to cede allowing Hull a better sightline and more time to react to the flight of the ball.
Hull implored his troops to move forward, but the Blue Devil defenders held their ground. Cole rocketed a missile that Griffin Metzko plucked out of a crowd, heading the ball beyond Hull’s reach and into SK’s goal. With 5:34 left in the game, SK had evened the score.

Defensive standoff
The 1-1 tie held with South Kortright and Margaretville named co-Delaware League champions. The title game was a classic defensive clash, and most of the action took place in the midfield. The first half saw only three shots on goal, all by South Kortright.

Hull prevented the Rams from finding the nets with just over eight minutes to play in the opening half. Margaretville was whistled for a handball with an SK direct kick awarded some 8 yards beyond the right hand forward edge of the box. Cole blasted a blistering shot headed toward the far corner of the goal. Hull launched to the air using a full extension dive to bat the ball away.

Devils on top
Margaretville would strike gold on their first shot on goal just three minutes into the second half. Once again a direct kick initiated the offense. From just outside the box on the left side, Matt VanValkenburg directed a high cross finding his favorite target, Kyle Short. Short charged forwarded playing the cross off his head into the back of the goal.

Short’s goal was almost all Margaretville would need. The Blue Devils controlled much of the action during the first 30 minutes of the second half taking five corner kicks to none for SK. More Hull dramatics stopped the Ram’s only shot on goal before Metzko’s score. Hull raced forward from the goal, skidding on his stomach trying to make a save. The ball squirted in front of the Blue Devil goalie, with SK strikers converging with the Margaretville goalie sprawled on the turf face down. Hull lurched forward and punched the ball with his fist clearing it to safety some 20 yards in the opposite direction.

The game marked South Kortright’s sixth consecutive appearance in the DL championship game. In five of those six dates the Rams have squared off against Margaretville.

MCS girls share title
Like they had in the regular season, they battled back and forth, sideline to sideline, end line to end line. When the final horn sounded in Saturday’s Delaware League title game, just as they had during the regular season, Downsville and Margaretville were locked in a tie, this time at 2-2. The DL Division winners and overall Co-Champions now turn their attention to the Section IV Playoffs.

Unpredictable
Saturday’s title game was awash with twists and turns and surprises of one kind or another. The string of unusual events started early when Downsville scored on an own-goal just four minutes into the game. Kaileen Townsend drove the ball down the left wing, out maneuvered two Blue Devil defenders and cracked a cross that deflected off a Margaretville defender and into the goal.

Two minutes later it appeared as if the speedy Eagle forward line might hit pay dirt again. This time Kendra Lacey touched a back pass from the left wing to Leigh LaTourette. LaTourette fired a shot that Margaretville goalie Alexas Molnar stretched just enough to bat away from the goal.

Downsville dodged a pair of bullets early in the opening half. The first Margaretville near score stared when Annette Auchmoody controlled the ball in the midfield then grounded a pass to Cecilia Galatioto streaking down the right sideline. Galatioto skidded a perfect cross along the ground finding Tess Svoboda and catching Downsville goalie Katie Lawrence out of position, charging forward away from the goal. Svoboda’s shot attempt sailed high.

On the following offensive drive, Svoboda beat one Eagle in a footrace to the ball in the left corner, used fancy footwork to shuck away a second Downsville defender, then crossed a laser finding midfielder Raeann Bond open at the top of the box. Bond’s blast went over the crossbar.

Overly aggressive defensive play cost Downsville midway through the half. Margaretville striker Elia Tanzer was driving through the box from the left of the goal and was slammed to the ground by the Downsville sweeper. Tanzer was awarded a penalty kick and calmly rifled a shot along the ground leaving Lawrence no realistic chance of making a save.

The beneficiary of some dazzling play by teammate Cora Bruno, Tanzer nearly gave the Blue Devils the lead with 6:40 left in the half. Bruno outraced two defenders to a throw-in that hugged the right sideline, toeing a pass towards Tanzer in the middle of the field. Somehow Tanzer dug the ball away and around two defenders to find herself driving one-on-one on a sharp angle at the Eagle goal. Tanzer’s shot ricocheted off the pole and bounced in front of the goal where Lawrence hauled it in.

Lacey put Downsville ahead with a long strike eight minutes into the second half. Townsend found Lacey in the middle of the field 30 or more yards from the goal and the Downsville midfielder lofted a high shot toward the nets. Molnar stretched high, but Lacey’s shot deflected off her hands and over her head into the goal.

The feisty Tanzer made things happen again with 17 minutes left in the contest. Driving the box once one more time, Tanzer was knocked to the ground and awarded a second penalty shot. This time Lawrence was up to the challenge going high to bat the PK away.

The Blue Devils scored the equalizer three minutes before the final horn. Once again, a stop ball situation played a role in the score. The play began with a Svoboda direct kick to the left of the box. Raeann Bond played the high cross out of the air, the ball stopped short of the goal by an Eagle defender.

When the Downsville defender tried to dribble the ball out of the swarm in front of the goal, Cora Cruno swiped it away and drilled it into the nets knotting the score at 2-2. That’s how it would end with the Eagles and the Blue Devils DL Co-Champs.

Downsville enters Section IV Class D play as the top seed. Margaretville takes a 10 game unbeaten streak into the Section IV playoffs.