Soccer teams gear up for sectionals; MCS boys to clash with SK in Crossover
By Julia Green
Three in, two out, and the fate of one was hanging in the balance Monday, as area soccer teams awaited the release of the sectional match-ups.
The Margaretville boys and girls and the Andes boys’ soccer teams all qualified outright for sectional play, while the Andes girls’ squad awaited a decision by the ACS administration as to whether or not they would be allowed to advance to postseason play.
“I know some of the other coaches have already committed or not committed to going to sectionals,” said ACS Co-Coach Tom Little on Sunday. “We’re kind of in a borderline situation there. Our team is kind of in uncharted waters. I’d like to keep going – we haven’t had this many wins in a long time. I say go, and the girls say go, too, so we’ll see.”
The Andes girls tied the last game of their regular season on Thursday, battling to a 1-1 deadlock on the road at Roxbury. Rachel Meckes put the host Rockets on the board just over three minutes into the second half, but the Mountaineers equalized less than a minute later off a goal from Kaitlin Mackay. Thursday was the second meeting between the two teams this season, and the second tie result.
“I think we were pretty evenly matched,” Little said of the game, which was played in less than ideal soccer weather, with freezing temperatures and a mix of snow and sleet. “We went into extra time and had quite a few chances in the beginning, and they put a lot of pressure on in the second overtime when it was getting dark, and I was just hoping it would end in a draw and nothing foolish happened.”
Andes goalkeeper Jenna Weaver tallied nine saves for the Mountaineers.
“Jenna did a good job in the goal,” Little said. “In the second overtime it was getting dark and they were pressing quite heavily on our right back, and Jenna had a couple shots on goal and she came up strong and could see the ball well in the snow and kind of kept us in the game. But it was an evenly played match, and I was happy to come out of it with a tie at that point.”
Roxbury Head Coach Lisa Faraci was impressed with how her players didn’t allow the nasty conditions to affect their play.
“It was bitter cold, snow… pretty awful,” she said. “Not a temperature you want to go into double overtime in. But I’m just amazed – I can’t believe how hard the girls played, considering.”
Faraci added that she felt her team, which was playing without its starting goalkeeper and a starting midfielder, dominated much of the overtime play.
“We seemed to dominate, and I thought maybe we’d put it away there,” she said. “But everything just kept going wide or over. It just didn’t want to go in for us.”
Meckes’ goal came about off a through ball by midfielder Kennedy Faraci.
“Considering they were just freezing, they really did a nice job on everything we’ve talked about all season: controlling the ball, some nice through balls, passing… they just worked together well, I thought,” Faraci said.
The Roxbury girls finish the regular season 4-8-3. They will lose six seniors to graduation this year.
“I think overall we’re happy, but we definitely had set some goals,” Faraci said. “We were hoping to make some sectional play this year, and I think some of those key games were early on in the year and maybe we just weren’t really feeling the necessity of it at that point, but overall I think they’re proud of themselves. I’m proud of them. Certainly the level of play from past years to what we saw this year and the competitiveness of where we were… we’re hoping to be moving in an upward swing in future years here.”
The Margaretville girls had a tough final week of the regular season, falling to the visiting Rams of South Kortright 3-1 on Wednesday and to the host Wildcats of Gilboa 2-1 on Thursday.
“South Kortright came out strong the first half, beating us to the ball and winning the 50-50’s,” said MCS Head Coach Toni Smith.
The Rams held a 2-0 halftime lead.
“We stepped up our level of play the second half and had some nice opportunities, but were not able to capitalize on them,” Smith said.
The Blue Devils’ lone goal came with just over 28 minutes remaining in the second half. Senior Erica Faulkner scored off a cross from Amy Filupeit to put Margaretville on the scoreboard.
Margaretville goalkeeper Megan McKenna tallied six saves for the Blue Devils.
When the MCS girls traveled Thursday to face the host Wildcats of Gilboa, who owned a No. 15 ranking in the state, Smith said the game was fairly even.
“Both teams played well and worked hard,” she said. “It was a pretty evenly-matched game.”
Gilboa struck first, tallying one with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.
The Blue Devils tied it up, however, with a header by senior Amanda Drizis off a set piece from Erica Faulkner with 31 minutes remaining in the game; however, the Wildcats struck again five minutes later to take a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.
The Blue Devils finish the regular season 8-7 overall and await the release of sectional seedings to find out who they will play in the opening round.
“We have no idea who we will play yet, but we’ll take it game by game, do the best we can, and hope to surprise a few teams.”
Boys’ soccer results
There was plenty on the line for the Andes boys on Saturday, when they traveled to face the undefeated Blue Devils of Margaretville on their home turf. An Andes win would clinch the Mountain Division and qualify the Mountaineers to compete in Saturday’s crossover game. A Margaretville victory, however, would give the division to the South Kortright Rams and mean the third crossover match-up in as many years for the Rams and the Blue Devils.
It was back and forth in the first half, with both teams playing high-pressure defense and shutting down their opponents’ leading scorers. Scoring opportunities were somewhat abundant, but neither team was able to capitalize in the opening 40 minutes, with big saves from Andes keeper Nate Tuch, who was filling in for the injured Mountaineers’ regular keeper Josh Bonafacic, and Margaretville goalie Brian Faulkner keeping the score deadlocked at one.
“That was a tough game Saturday,” said Andes Head Coach Adam VanValkenburgh. “The first half it was nail-biting, and then I think fatigue set in a little bit for us as they started capitalizing on their opportunities.”
Eleven minutes into the second half, Margaretville got on the board. Tyler Smith slid a ball over to the left-hand side, where Abraham Morales settled it, took one dribble inside the 18-yard box, and fired a shot near-post to give the Blue Devils a one-goal lead.
“I think [ACS keeper] Nate [Tuch] got a hand on it, but it just had too much pace on it,” said Margaretville Head Coach Jeremey Marks, who added that the game was a good note on which to end the regular season. “Honestly, it was a postseason-type atmosphere. Great crowd, good soccer day in terms of there being something on the line. Both teams had a lot at stake, and I think the play reflected that in the first half.”
There was an undeniable momentum shift in Margaretville’s favor in the second half, particularly following the Blue Devils’ first goal, which was due in part to Andes’ lack of substitutions.
“They’re a really great passing team, and that’s how you would tire out another team,” VanValkenburgh said. “Fatigue, I think, definitely became an issue late in the game. But I thought the first half was probably one of the most exciting halves that I’ve seen us play this year, with the exception of the South Kortright double-overtime tie.”
Marks acknowledged that numbers played a role in the game, to a point.
“I think our depth helped,” Marks said. “I think they might have got worn down a little bit, but they didn’t let up much. Early on, I think we struggled to win the ball consistently, and that was a product of the intensity of the game and it had a lot to do with Andes. They were aggressive and held their own in terms of winning the ball. Overall, I thought our second half was more indicative of how we want to play as a team. We utilized our speed, and that’s how we are successful: winning it, settling it, and playing it forward.”
The Blue Devils’ second goal came around the 20-minute mark, when Morales played a ball to Javier Martinez just outside the 18 on the left-hand side; Martinez hit a solid shot that deflected off an Andes defender and into the net to widen Margaretville’s lead to two. The third and final goal came with just two minutes remaining, off a strike from forward Cody Fronckowiak.
The Margaretville defense also played a key role, managing to shut down Andes forward and area leading scorer Peter Fabrykiewicz, who has a total of 25 goals on the season.
“Peter’s a dangerous player, and he’s great with the ball at his feet,” Marks said. “He’s obviously the area’s leading scorer for a reason, and we knew anytime he was in the area that our defenders had to be aware of where he was. We didn’t stick one specific guy on him, but I think as a defensive unit, those guys did a good job of containing him.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming sectional play, both coaches are expecting their teams to keep doing what they’ve been doing.
“I consider this preseason again,” said VanValkenburgh, whose team finishes the regular season with a 10-2-1 overall record. “We want to keep enforcing what we’ve done well and try to add a few new strategies on the offense and the transition. But a lot of it’s continuing what we’ve been doing.”
The Andes boys were knocked out in the first round of sectionals last year by Roxbury; the year before, Margaretville ended their season in the first round.
“We have seven seniors, and they were all a part of both those teams,” he said. “These kids have been going through the building process. They’ve experienced lows and they’ve been building up and have experienced a successful regular season. Now we’re looking to have a good run in sectionals and go as far as we’re able to.”
Marks echoed the sentiment of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“We need to stay in shape, and we want to fine-tune some aspects of our game and stay focused and hungry as the postseason approaches,” he said. “Having gone through the league unblemished is a good thing, and 10-0 is an honor. I think we understand how hard our league is and not taking anything for granted, because it’s not easy to go through our league undefeated. We understand how tough that was, but we also understand that those records go out the window when sectionals start, and everybody’s 0-0.
“Saturday’s [crossover] game will be a good exhibition for the league, but after that, if you don’t play well, you can go home regardless of what you’ve done previously. But we want to go out Saturday and play well. The guys want that game. We’ll focus on that and then the postseason – one game at a time.”
The Blue Devils will face the Rams of South Kortright in the crossover game at the Soccer Hall of Fame Complex in Oneonta at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday.
The first round of the boys’ sectional tournament will be played on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The schedule and seeding information for the sectional tournament will be released later in the week.
The 2009 season came to a close this week for the Roxbury boys, who posted a 1-0 win at Gilboa on Tuesday but fell to host Andes, 6-0, on Thursday.
After battling through nearly a full 80 minutes without a goal for either team on Tuesday, the Rockets’ Dan Menne scored with 14 seconds left in regulation on Tuesday to give the Rockets the win. A shot from Kevin Lutz was deflected by the Gilboa goalkeeper, resulting in a scramble on the goal line that Menne was able to put away.
“We moved the ball well, passed the ball well, and had a lot of great opportunities,” said Roxbury Head Coach Tom Faraci. “I think we might have had eight or 10 corner kicks. We were just unable to finish.”
Roxbury goalkeeper Garrett Hall tallied nine saves in the win, with which the Rockets moved to 2-8-5 overall. Roughly two minutes before Menne’s goal, Roxbury had a goal by Kevin Lutz called back due to offsides.
“I think we matched up well,” Faraci said. “I think we held momentum for a lot of the game. We had the better of the possession, though I wouldn’t say we dominated.”
Thursday proved to be a tough outing for the Rockets, and the elements were no help as they battled the Mountaineers in Andes.
“I thought we came out playing well, and I was very happy with the way we opened up the game, and then we kind of gave up a soft goal,” Faraci said. “From there it was just downhill – we couldn’t rebound from that.”
The breakdown led to a 3-0 lead for the Mountaineers, from which the Rockets were unable to recover. Andes’ Peter Fabrykiewicz tallied four goals for the Mountaineers, who received three assists from Corey Barrett.
“For the most part we were fairly competitive,” said Faraci of the season, which saw his roster pared down to 13 players. “We had some trouble scoring some goals, obviously, but sometimes you play defense for so long and then you don’t score and you almost kind of lose that excitement, that feeling that we could score. But overall, I think we showed improvement throughout the year. I’m kind of hoping that as everybody comes back a year older, we’ll see a marked improvement next year.”
The Rockets will lose three seniors to graduation.