April 18, 2011
CHS pulls away from Trojans
Turns halftime deadlock into 9-3 win
Momentum shifted twice — with more intensity than the cold, wet and windy weather — on Saturday afternoon as the Cortland High girls’ lacrosse team beat Homer Central 9-3 at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex in the rivals’ annual Stick It To Cancer Game.
The Purple Tigers, now 4-0 in the OHSL Freedom American Division and 5-1 overall, were in control early, scoring the game’s first three goals in the first 14:36 as both teams vied with the conditions as well as with each other.
Then the Trojans, now 2-2 in the Freedom American and 3-5 overall, came back strong. They scored the last three goals of the first half in a span of 7:40 to forge a 3-3 tie at intermission.
Cortland took the lead for good just 39 seconds into the second half on an unassisted goal by senior midfielder Jacquie Clark, and from there it was all Purple Tigers. A pair of goals, by senior attack Carly Cunningham off an assist from senior midfielder Kaylee Gebhardt 1:21 in, and by senior midfielder Kaitlyn Drach unassisted just 25 seconds later, pretty much sealed the deal.
“We wanted to come out strong in the second half,” Cortland coach Kim Pace said, her team with a 23-9 shot advantage in the contest, including 14 of the 18 total second-half shots. “Homer had the momentum after tying the game before halftime, but the girls realized that it they continued to play hard, do the things they know how to to and play together that hopefully we could pull away. Without those three early goals, it could have been a totally different game.
“You never know when you play Homer; every year they seem to be close games,” she added, CHS with a pair of 8-7 wins over their neighbors last spring including an overtime escape. “I was thrilled with the way the girls played in the second half. It was their best half all season, especially considering the conditions.”
“No more turnovers,” Homer coach Ed Porter said with a smile in addressing the reasons for his team’s first-half comeback.
“We’re a very young team and Cortland is a very good team,” he added, Homer with just three seniors on its 22-player roster. “You can’t do that (turn the ball over) against teams like that. We told the girls at halftime that we couldn’t have turnovers in the second half, that if we maintained possession of the ball we had a chance for success. Cortland came out and scored those three quick goals, and it took the wind out of our sails a little. But we’ve played from behind quite a bit, and aren’t unused to it.”
Porter also noted the Purple Tigers did a good job against the Trojans’ top two scorers. Sophomore attack Emma Porter, the coach’s daughter, came in with a team-high 31 points on 20 goals and 11 assists and was held to one assist. Junior midfielder Katelyn Gray scored twice and now has a team-high 22 goals on the season, and moved into eighth on the Homer career scoring list with 111 points on 99 goals and 12 assists. Porter is now tied for 16th on the same list with 80 points on 62 goals and 18 assists.
“MELANIE PHILLIPS DID did a good job of slowing Emma down, along with Izzy Wittmack on the double team,” Pace said, Phillips a senior defender for CHS. “Carly Cunningham, Tricia Rosetti and Haley Meldrim did a nice job of settling things on the offensive end to give our midfielders a rest.
“Jacquie and Taylor Reynolds played well at midfield. Julia Porter and Kaitlyn Drach were always able to find the open spaces in transition to get the ball down the field,’’ added Pace. “And Julia Convertini did a nice job in goal today.”Senior goalie Convertini had eight saves to six for Homer junior Hailey Sweeney, who earned praise from her coach as the visitors’ top player in the game.
Cunningham got the scoring started 2:05 in off a free position, and Gebhardt’s unassisted tally at 14:33 made it 2-0. Cunningham got her second goal of the game, off an assist from senior attack Kelly Knauerhase, 10:24 before intermission.
Homer senior midfielder Hannah Davis opened her team’s scoring at the 8:05 mark before Gray scored her two goals, off an assist from Porter 4:02 later and unassisted with 25.3 seconds left in the first half.
After Cortland’s three-goal blitz to open the second half the winners, who won six of the seven draw controls in the final 25 minutes after Homer won four of seven in the first half, got goals from Gebhardt at 5:16 (free position) and with 24.5 seconds remaining, sandwiched around an unassisted goal by Rosetti. All told, Gebhardt had three goals and an assist, Cunningham three goals, Clark a goal and an assist and Drach and Rosetti one goal each.
“One of the keys was playing together, looking for the open person,” Gebhardt said. “The defense did a good job of coming up with the ball and getting it to us. We knew we had to shut down their leading scorers, listen to and trust in each other and come together.”
“We came out strong in the second half,” Cunningham said. “It was all heart. The elements took the skill out of it. We played as a team, all together. We talked at halftime about how, with the weather, we needed to play stronger and put everything we had into it. We had to have more heart than Homer did.”
HOMER HAD WON two in a row coming in, 9-8 over visiting Mexico on Tuesday and 10-8 at New Hartford on Thursday. Cortland, meanwhile, had tasted defeat for the first time on Thursday, dropping a 10-2 non-leaguer to host East Syracuse-Minoa.
“ES-M was a tough loss,” Pace said. “We knew we didn’t play to our potential, and worked a lot in practice on Friday on trusting each other. We have to pull together to win games.”
“There were definitely some butterflies coming in,” Gebhardt said. Coming off a tough loss motivated us.”
“We wanted to prove to everyone that we’re still a strong team,” Cunningham said. “We got back into it, and played together as a team.”
Cortland wore black jerseys with pink and white trim for the game, while Homer’s warmups were white with pink. All proceeds from the contest — admission, a 50-50 raffle and the sale of special T-shirts — will go to Susan G. Komen For The Cure.
The Purple Tigers host South Jefferson at 11 a.m. Tuesday in a non-leaguer, while Homer next sees action Monday against visiting Jamesville-DeWitt in an 11 a.m. start.
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