September 25, 2008
Smallest Olympian comes up big
Late Marsh goal nips Purple Lions 2-1
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Marathon’s Adam Lantry (7) collides with Dryden goalie Mark Durkee, who latches on to a corner kick during Wednesday’s showdown of IAC unbeatens. Host Marathon prevailed, 2-1.
MARATHON — Sometimes the best things come in small packages. That could well be the case with Marathon Central sophomore Tyler Marsh.
He was certainly not the biggest player on the field as the Olympians hosted Dryden High in a huge battle between the best two soccer teams in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Wednesday.
The 5-foot-4 striker was a pesky gnat for the taller, quicker Purple Lions as Marathon won the showdown of unbeaten state-ranked teams 2-1 on Marsh’s header with 4:12 remaining in the match.
Marathon, ranked fourth in the latest Class C state poll, improves to 9-0-1 overall. The the seventh-ranked Class B Dryden boys fall to 8-1-1.
It was the first win for the Olympians against the Purple Lions since 2003, these two teams having played to a 4-4 overtime standoff earlier this season on Dryden’s home turf.
“I was in position to get to the ball and I was able to put it in the goal,” said Marsh of the game-winner. “You just have to keep hustling against a team like that and we pulled together today. It feels good to beat Dryden because they are our rival. It was a big win for us.”
“The goalie came out and I think he misjudged Smirk’s height,” chuckled Marathon coach Chip Stewart, using an affectionate nickname for Marsh. “Smirky’s a player. He is savvy and he knows where he is on the field. You either have that awareness or you don’t. That is not something you can teach. He knew he just had to flick the ball past the goalkeeper and he did.
“Tyler is the little water gnat,” Stewart continued. “He really makes things happen for us. He won the ball that set up our first goal.”
That first goal came with 28:19 left in the match and came after a scoreless first half where there were few good scoring chances. Marsh kept hustling and fighting for a ball on the end line. He won the battle and centered a stiff pass to Doug Whitney who strode onto the ball and made a nice passing shot into the middle third of the net to the left of Mark Durkee (three saves).
“That was the highlight of the season for me to score a goal against Dryden,” said Whitney, who has just four goals this season. “We kept our composure today and good things happened. We are beginning to jell as a team.”
“Doug knew where he was,” Stewart said. “He got the ball on his right foot and made a nice bending shot past the goalkeeper. He didn’t hit the ball hard, he just made a nice shot to get the ball past the keeper. Doogie hasn’t scored a lot of goals. He keeps getting better and I think it is just a confidence thing with him. He just needs to keep getting in there and making contact.”
AFTER MARATHON took the 1-0 lead, Dryden started to regroup and did begin turning up the pressure. Dan Holland redirected one pass just wide of the goal. Randy Setzer struck on hard, low shot from about 20 yards out that Evan Holl (seven saves) grabbed and Beno sent another dangerous pass across the goal that hooked out of bounds.
With 7:45 left, Holl punched another ball away after Joshua Piger served a ball into the box.
The Purple Lions got the break they needed in the next minute. The ball again was in the box and was banging around, but it appeared that Marathon was going to clear the ball. Holland raced in, settled the ball and ripped a 25-yard shot inside the right post to knot the score with 6:22 remaining.
The Olympians did not drop their heads and came back to score the game-winner two minutes later. Nick Barry chipped a ball towards the goal from just outside the box. Marsh went for the ball as Durkee tried coming out of the goal. Marsh won the battle and headed the ball past Durkee for the game winner.
The Purple Lions got two more solid chances inside the final minute. The first came with 45 seconds left when Tim Scheftic headed the ball, but Holl went up to grab it and stop the threat.
The last gasp came with five seconds to go when Piger and Marsh came together. As Piger pushed Marsh, Marsh started to go down and pulled Piger with him. The officials stopped play and awarded Dryden a direct kick from about 40 yards. Holland ripped a shot towards the near post Holl grabbed to end the game.
At the end, both Stewart and Dryden coach Laszlo Engel had nothing but positives to say about the efforts of the opposing team.
“Give Dryden a lot of credit,” Stewart said. “They started putting pressure on us with about 20 minutes left. They began playing with a sense of urgency. We were playing to not make the mistake and we did. We got very passive on defense. Holland made a great shot that Evan could not get too, but Evan played great. He made two great saves down the stretch.”
“We have had great rivalry with Marathon over the last few years,” Engel said. “This was the first time that they actually won. They really wanted it today and worked hard for it. My hats off to Marathon, they did a great job.”
“The ground is hard and the ball took some funny bounces for both teams,” Engel continued. “We really had trouble getting that final touch, but that is just part of the game. Mark played a great game in goal today. The two goals he gave up today were not his fault. They were both the result of mistakes that someone else made. When you make a mistake, a good team like Marathon will capitalize.”
WHILE MARATHON won this crossover game, the Olympians will most likely have a battle with Southern Cayuga for the Division III title, but the loser of this division will most likely earned the wild-card bid for the playoffs.
For the Purple Lions, it could be a tougher road with Notre Dame and Lansing still on the Division I schedule a second time and Engle has just one main thought.
“We really need to win the division,” Engel said. “I truly believe the Marathon and Southern Cayuga will come from Division III for our playoffs. We can’t count on the wild-card because anyone can beat you in our division. Obviously we did well the first time through going 5-0, but Notre Dame and Lansing will be dangerous the second time around so we need to be ready.”
Marathon will travel to Newark Valley for crossover action Friday while Dryden will host Union Springs in its final crossover. Both matches start at 4:30 p.m.
Trumansburg 3, Groton 1: Charlie Woodward scored a pair of goals to lift visiting Trumansburg to a 3-1 victory at Groton.
Woodard exchanged goals with John Hilker from Groton during first-half play as the game was knotted at 1-1. Woodward and Austin Ridley tallied in the second half for the Blue Raiders.
Brandon Pollack made 11 saves for Groton while teammate Charles Pratt making one save. Colby Taber recorded five saves for Trumansburg.
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