September 27, 2007


Homer holds on to nip host CHS

Trojans protect halftime lead in 2-1 victory over rivals


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Alexis Keeney (7), left, and Homer Central’s Kaylee Benz (18), right, meet head-to-head at midfield late in the first half of Wednesday’s OHSL Freedom Division soccer match. Visiting Homer prevailed, 2-1.

Staff Writer

Coach Jim Baranello wasn’t expecting this.
His young Homer Central girls’ soccer team had gone into halftime against host Cortland High with a 2-1 lead Wednesday evening. After 40 more minutes had ticked off the clock, that was the final score as the Trojans improved to 4-3 in the OHSL Freedom Division and 7-3 overall.
“I was a little surprised, because Cortland has a lot of very good players,” said Baranello, whose team is ranked 10th in this week’s Class A state poll, of Homer’s second-half defensive stand. “They have two very talented forwards, Natalie Muka and Katherine Hunsberger, who are very difficult to mark. I thought the kids did an excellent job.
“Especially in the second half, we forced them to play back and square,” he added. “For the better part of the first half we allowed them to play ball after ball diagonally up the field, which is tough to defend. In the second half, we gave them a lot less room to play. I told the girls at halftime that the one-goal lead wouldn’t be enough, and that we had to have 40 more minutes of intensity. When we talk about that, it means pressuring the ball when you don’t have it.”
Cortland coach Abbey Albright, whose team’s league and overall records are now identical to Homer’s at 4-3 and 7-3, respectively, looked at things somewhat differently when asked about the job Homer did holding on to its slim halftime lead.
“I wasn’t surprised,” she said in this rematch of last year’s Section 3 Class A championship game won by Homer in overtime. “Homer always has a solid team, and whenever I see them play, they play well. Going into the game we talked about how we needed to approach each game the same, with the same intensity level. No matter who we’re playing, how experienced their players are, we have to play our game for 80 minutes.
“I think my girls played with great hustle. There were a few shots here and there that could have been taken, or one to go in; but it was a great game on both ends,” she added.
IT LOOKED EARLY on like the game would be heavy on the offense, as each team notched a quick tally. Homer senior midfielder Emily Swisher tucked a direct kick from just outside the 18-yard line on the far left side just under the crossbar on the far side for her second goal of the season to make it 1-0 Trojans just 3:45 in. It took 2:08 for Cortland to answer, as senior forward Natalie Muka made it 13 goals on the season when she picked up a loose ball deep on the left and sent a low shot to the far side.
Homer had three more chances before freshman back Kourtenee Kohne got the game-winner 14:31 into the half, taking a shot from the left side that hit the crossbar on the right and caromed down into the net.
“It was just supposed to be a cross, but it went in,” Kohne said of her first varsity goal. “I was surprised that ended up being the game-winner. It’s nicer because I was with Cortland (on the JV team) last year; it’s pretty awesome. This win should help us the rest of the season.”
“I’m very happy with this team,” Baranello said. “This is two excellent games in a row for us now. We were in a position to win against CBA (in a 2-1 overtime road loss Monday), and then playing a quality opponent like Cortland on their home field and winning is impressive for a young team.
“I told the girls that the CBA is game wasn’t one we had to win, but that they just had to play well against a tough opponent. Right now we’re not concerned with winning and losing, but just playing well. I though Erika Trivisonno (a senior forward who had a number of good chances) was a handful for them. (Senior midfielder) Kaylee Benz won ball after ball in the second half, and we also got particularly good games from (junior midfielder-back) Kazzondrah Kohne, (senior midfielder-forward) Danielle Swarm and (freshman forward) Rayne Perry.”
Albright noted: “We made a few defensive switches (at halftime) that helped. Swisher was playing deep at times; I put Emily VanGorder (junior defender) up to mark her, and she did a good job. I also told the girls to play the easy balls more, rather than getting too nervous, that they should take a look and see what their options are rather than playing the first thing they see.”
Each team took 16 shots in the game. Homer sophomore goalkeeper Danielle Reygers made eight saves, while sophomore Hannah Polanko-Baker made four saves in the first half and senior Katie Apley stopped three shots in the second for Cortland.
CORTLAND JVs defeated Homer 3-1 as Taylor Reynolds (penalty kick at 4:02) and Maya Gebhardt (off a Haley Cheetham assist at 16:40) scored in the first half while Marissa Mastronardi had the lone second-half tally (unassisted at 24:24).
Homer’s Katelyn Buchanan opened the scoring just 1:15 into the game.
Alex Starmer had one save in the Cortland net before being forced out with an injury, while Kelly Faberzak came on and made five saves. Homer’s Melisa Devaney made 11 saves as the winners had a 15-11 shot advantage. 
Both Cortland teams visit East Syracuse-Minoa on Saturday, while the Homer squads both host Mexico the same day, the JVs at 10 a.m. and the varsity at noon.  




Hiza’s late goal lifts TC3 women

TROY — A goal in the closing minutes gave Tompkins Cortland Community College women’s soccer a hard-fought 1-0 win at Hudson Valley CC Wednesday.
The Panthers, ranked ninth in the latest NJCAA national poll, improve to 8-2 overall and 7-1 in Region III. Hudson Valley falls to 6-2-1 overall.
The game-winning goal came in the 88th minute of play. Cortland High graduate Kim Natoli took a free kick from about 40 yards out, floating a ball that Danielle Hiza ran under. After beating her defender, Hiza found the back of the net for the game-winner.
Playing in hot and humid conditions, the Panthers enjoyed the better of play most of the game, but failed to create many solid scoring chances.
“It felt like 100 degrees,” said TC3 coach Mick McDaniel. “After the three and one-half hour bus ride, we stepped outside into those conditions. That was the real survival of the night.
“We controlled game, especially in the second half,” McDaniel continued. “Hudson Valley did not get that many scoring chances after we got our legs back. We were able establish our style of play and that allowed us to maintain our shape better.”
The TC3 defense again held an opponent scoreless. After allowing five shots in the first half, the Panther defense stiffened in the second half, allowing just a single shot. Andi Mowry recorded five saves for her second straight shutout.
“Our defense is playing real well,” McDaniel said. “We have allowed just one goal in the last five games since our loss to Mohawk Valley. Kara Beth Eaton has stepped into the sweeper role due to injury and is she doing well. Our entire defense is playing well as a unit.”
TC3 women return to action Saturday as the Panthers host Jamestown Community College at 2 p.m.
TC3 MEN pushed the nation’s second-ranked team to the limit Wednesday night before falling 1-0 to a very confident SUNY Cobleskill soccer team at the new Panther Athletic Complex.
TC3 is now 5-3-1 overall and 3-3-1 in Region III. Cobleskill improves to 9-1 overall and 8-1 in Region III.
As has been the case all year, the TC3 defense played well. The lone score came after the visitors earned a free kick from just outside the box. As TC3 was setting its defense, Cobleskill’s Cedric Bouemboue quickly passed the ball to an open Jacob Spiegal, who found the net.




Harmon helps Homer to remain unbeaten

MEXICO — While Heather Wilson and Jessica Bramhall led a 1-2 sweep of Homer Central girls during OHSL Freedom Division cross-country action Wednesday, it was the determined effort of senior Megan Harmon that drew the post-race laurels.
Running through a lot of pain, Harmon finished 14th overall and secured a Trojan sweep. Homer nipped Mexico 26-31 and picked up a win over an incomplete Fulton team to improve to 4-0 in dual-meet league competition.
“Fulton had an incomplete team, but the race between Homer and Mexico was very close,” said Homer coach Jim Baldwin. “It boiled down to where Megan Harmon would finish. Megan is pretty hurt with knee trouble, but she ran her heart out this afternoon and really showed some mental toughness. Her finish allowed us to win the contest against Mexico and, consequently, we recognized her efforts with making her our most valuable runner. Megan received a plaque from the Mexico Athletic Booster Club.”
Wilson posted a winning time of 20:59 with Bramhall (21:28) using a late kick to finish second against Tia Bullard of Mexico.
Caitlin McMahon posted a solid fourth-place showing in 21:41 with Laura Niederhofer also cracking the Top-10 with her seventh-place effort in 23 minutes flat.
“This was a great race for our top runners,” said Baldwin. “Heather ran her best race of the year. She looked strong and even had that look in her eye that no one was going to beat me today. 
“The beginning of the race Wilson, Bramhall and Bullard went by on the first loop as a pack, but Wilson separated herself from the pack and Bramhall passed Bullard,” Baldwin explained. “During the last mile, Bullard passed Bramhall and it looked like Jessica was going to come in third, but, in the last 100 meters, Bramhall came up on Bullard really fast, passed her, and out kicked her to the finish.”  
FULTON AND MEXICO each grabbed three of the top six spots with Mexico asserting itself with all five runners in the top 11.
Mexico beat Homer 21-38 and Fulton 25-29 with Fulton downing Homer 21-34. The Trojans are 1-3 on the season.
Evan Oustrich led the host team with his first-place time of 17:25 with Fulton’s Noah Carroll next in 18:04.