October 1, 2009


Relieved CHS blanks Homer

Purple Tigers win Play for the Cure Game, 2-0

Field Hockey

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central’s MacKenzie Sullivan (left) tries to get past and Kaitlyn Drach of Cortland High in the first half of Wednesday’s OHSL field hockey contest. CHS won at home, 2-0.

Staff Writer

The relieved smile on Cortland High field hockey coach Jamie Brown’s face said it all Wednesday afternoon.
“That was a game of two different halves, wasn’t it?” she said, also shaking her head in the aftermath of her team’s 2-0 win over visiting Homer Central in an OHSL Division II West contest that was also a Play For the Cure Game, the two teams teaming up to raise money for the Susan G. Omen Foundation in advance of October as Breast Cancer Month.
The Purple Tigers, now 5-1 in the league and 5-2 overall, dominated the first 20 minutes of the first half before the Trojans came on in the last 10. The hosts scored 1:18 into the game and 24 seconds before intermission.
The latter goal, however, served only to motivate the Trojans, who allowed CHS a brief offensive thrust early in the second half and then owned the rest of the game territorially, at one point taking nine straight penalty corners in a seven-minute span and finishing with an 18-6 advantage in that category. Homer also took six shots in the final 30 minutes and didn’t allow Cortland any, after the Purple Tigers had an 8-2 advantage in that department in the first half.
Sophomore goalie Maggie Brown, the coach’s daughter, was the difference for the winners, with a couple of tough saves and a number of clears that helped keep the visitors off the scoreboard. She made five saves in all to two for Trojans sophomore goalie Katie Sinclair, who helped keep the score manageable for her team in the first half.
“We did everything but score,” Homer coach Ellen Garrett said, also with a smile of rightful pride. “It was frustrating for the girls. We told them they had to believe they could do it, and they started working together well and moving to the ball. The girls know Maggie plays at a higher level, and they gave her all she could handle.
“We worked yesterday in practice on shooting, shooting, shooting. I was happy with the way we came back and totally dominated the second half like that. It was pretty impressive, but we’ve still got a goose egg.”
Garrett’s reference was to her team’s winless mark so far this season in six league games and seven contests overall. “Their record is deceptive,” Brown said. “They do a lot of nice things out there. They haven’t quite put together all the pieces, but when they do they’ll be dangerous. But we got by them twice (including a 3-1 season-opening win at Homer on Sept. 9), so we don’t have to worry about it.”
“I WAS A LITTLE surprised because Homer didn’t take many shots in the first half, and had a lot more in the second,” said Maggie Brown, who now has three shutouts this fall. “I like it better when there’s more action. I get to be part of the win instead of just standing around and doing nothing. They became a lot more aggressive trying to beat us.”
“We were having a little difficulty clearing the ball in the second half,” Coach Brown said. “We’d get it out of the defensive circle, but couldn’t get it much farther. They were overplaying the right side, which we use to go to Christine (senior forward Christine Gutchess), and we have to be able to make adjustments and find another gap.
“Maggie had a solid game in goal, especially in the second half, and (senior back) Maddie Forrester was definitely a leader on defense, and our flyer on the corner. Our corner defense, with four of our players plus the goalie essentially going against eight of their players, did a nice job of bending but not breaking. Maggie is mentally tough; she went from standing around being bored to being in the thick of it. It was tough, especially in the conditions. The strategy we employed paid off. We wanted to defend the sloppy (north) end the first half and try to get a lead on the cleaner one, and it worked. As it worked out, the south end saw most of the offense in both halves.”
It was Gutchess who opened the scoring just 1:28 into the contest, senior midfielder Rose Speranza feeding her the ball, shortly after Cortland had taken the first penalty corner of the game, for a shot that beat Homer sophomore goalie Sinclair from point-blank range on the left-wing side. “Rose made a nice pass to me off the corner, and I just shot it,” Gutchess said of her team-high eighth goal of the year. “Homer played a good game, and we did, too.”
Purple Tigers senior forward Ashley Norton, who had kept the ball in play on that play, scored what proved to be the final goal of the game just 24 seconds before halftime, keeping possession of the ball despite the efforts of the Homer defense and muscling it home, also from close range on the left-wing side. “A defender lifted her stick as we were both going for the ball, and I just pushed it between the goalie’s foot and the post,” said Norton, now with two goals this season.
Then came the second half, and Homer’s dominance. “Our backs, (junior) Colleen Gardner and (senior) Heather Ryan, moved the ball well,” Garrett said, “and Abbey Phelps (senior forward) and MacKenzie Sullivan (senior center midfielder) gave nice efforts.”
Cortland visits first-place Cazenovia (6-0 league) Friday with a chance to grab a share of the top spot and hosts Baldwinsville in a non-leaguer at 10 a.m. Saturday. Homer is at Weedsport Friday and hosts Moravia at 1 p.m. Saturday in a non-league game.
Each team wore special jerseys purchased by the schools’ respective Booster Clubs, Cortland in pink with black numbers and Homer in white with pink numbers. Each had a cancer survivor as an honorary captain for the pre-game coin flip, CHS teacher and former bowling coach Kathy Ferris for the Purple Tigers and former Homer teacher and field hockey coach Barb Wood for the Trojans.
MORE IMPORTANTLY than their friendly rivalry, the two teams combined to raise almost $800 for the Komen Foundation through the sale of “In Honor Of” and “In Memory Of” sheets, which were displayed in the CHS lower gym because of the weather. Half of the sheets will go to Homer to be displayed in the high school there.
The field was adorned with two pink ribbons and two Purple Tiger paws, with another ribbon and paw displayed on the hill at the south end of the field near the “CHS” mowed into the grass. Jamie Brown thanked Cortland High teachers Robin Jackson (art) and Tom Herting (technology) for their work in making the stencils involved, and the grounds crew of Rick Adams, Greg Darling, Rob Maniaci and Mike VanWinkle for the job they did of actually decorating the field.
CORTLAND JVs blanked Homer 3-0 as Taylor Thomas scored two goals and Taylor Tabel had the other tally, Hannah Bistocchi and Alex Pallassino with an assist apiece. CHS goalie Mikaela Poirier made one save for the shutout as the winners had a 10-2 shot advantage.
“This was a well-played game,” Purple Tigers coach Maureen White said, her squad now 3-3. “The conditions of the field were sloppy, especially after the varsity game. Even with the slipping and sliding, the girls did a great job of cutting to the ball and making effective passes to move the ball down the field.
“It was another total team effort. Gabby DiSanto, Lydia Polley and the two Taylors did a nice job on offense with Zarkarra Butts, Chelsey Corson and Alex Pallassino controlling the defense.”