October 12, 2007


McGraw stands alone in top spot


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Elizabeth Niver of McGraw (left) loses her balance while battling Kate Vosburg of DeRuyter during Thursday’s rain-soaked CCL first place soccer showdown. Host McGraw prevailed, 3-1.

Staff Writer

McGRAW — The McGraw Central girls’ soccer team, thanks in large part to two new players, is in good shape to continue an old tradition.
Behind two goals from first-year varsity player Casey Millard and one from fellow rookie Kierra Mack, the Eagles, ranked eighth in the state this week among Class D teams, beat visiting No. 20 DeRuyter 3-1 on a rainy and cold Thursday afternoon to break a tie with the Rockets for first place in the Central Counties League.
Cincinnatus beat host Stockbridge Valley 3-2 in another league game.
McGraw, which has won the league championship the last three years in a row, thus improved to 9-0-1 in league play and 14-1-1 overall. The Rockets are now a game back at 8-1-1 in the league (11-3-1 overall), each team with two CCL contests remaining. Host DeRuyter rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 2-2 tie in the teams’ first meeting Sept. 20.
The unassisted goal from Mack, a sophomore outside right forward in first-year Coach Dave Law’s offensive setup, came 9:20 into the game and gave the hosts a lead they never relinquished. Mack shot from deep on the right side and put the ball low into the opposite corner past DeRuyter freshman goalkeeper Kayla Hampton.
“That was huge, because scoring first gives you an advantage and up to that point I felt that DeRuyter was beating us, doing a better job of passing and getting to the ball first,” Law said. “It got us excited, and the next goal came fairly quickly (just over six minutes later). We decided to take balls wide today, because they were shutting down the middle.”
The first tally by Millard, a sophomore left midfielder, first tally came on a cross from the right side by Kristen Guy, and she put the ball home to the lower left side. Rockets junior midfielder Jen Cizenski drilled a shot that was tipped up and off the crossbar by McGraw junior keeper Chelsea Hayes with 17 minutes left before halftime. Millard made it 3-0 with 8:45 left when she put the ball over Hampton’s head and under the crossbar from the center of the field, inside the box, after a feed from the right by sophomore forward Nicole Law.
“WE PLAYED well and had a lot of opportunities in the first half,” said Tom Springer, who co-coaches the DeRuyter squad with Rob Neal. “We hit the crossbar and had some wide-open shots.  We fought back from being down 2-0 when we played McGraw at home. Our biggest problem is that we don’t have anyone other than (senior forward) Chelsea Way who can score. She puts the ball right there on every corner kick we take, but no one can put it in.
“What made things tougher was the fact that we didn’t get any calls in the first half; everything went against us,” he added. “We were getting pushed off the ball, and the girls were more worried about not falling.”
Law noted that senior Tory Finton played stopper for the first full game this season and praised the job she did containing Way, which was her specific assignment.
“I scored both goals left-footed,” Millard said of the two tallies that doubled her season’s output to go with eight assists. “They both came in from the right, and I went to the far post. We felt pretty good once we got the lead. Being home was definitely an advantage.”
“Casey has done very, very well, especially the second half of the season,” Law said. “She’s small, but she wins the ball every time, She chases the ball down, and when we’re going against a fast team I need her in there.”
Another plus for McGraw was the play of Hayes, who made 10 saves in the contest to 12 for Hampton as the Eagles had a 26-17 shot advantage. She also got shaken up twice, once catching a knee near her left eye and then being kicked in the stomach while making two of her saves, sliding out to beat a DeRuyter player to the ball each time.
“That happens a lot because of the way I play,” she said with a smile, with traces of mud she’d smeared under each eye before the game still visible on her cheeks. “It was good to get the lead, but when we were up 2-0 I was still nervous, remembering the last time and how they came back. I told my teammates not to let down, and once it was 3-0 I felt better. The defense did an awesome job.”
HAYES PULLED in a loose ball just ahead of two onrushing Rockets 12 minutes into the second half. She lost her shutout with 1:09 left, sophomore midfielder Heather Prugger putting a loose ball home off the last of Way’s three corner kicks in the contest (McGraw totaled six in the contest).
Springer expressed disappointment with the field conditions, noting that “With a field as muddy as this, a game this important should have been postponed.”
Law saw it differently.
“We watched the weather, and the field was checked during the day,” he said. “We haven’t had much rain, so it drains well; there wasn’t any standing water. The conditions were equal for everybody, and this is what we’ll see in the sectionals, so why not get ready?”
The Eagles are, as noted, going for their fourth league title in a row. So is Law, his first three coming with the McGraw boys’ squad from 2004 through last season. “McGraw has a reputation in the CCL that a lot of people expect us to live up to,” he said. “We didn’t expect to be this far along, and the season isn’t over yet. I’m very proud of how this team is holding together, regardless of the outcome of the season.
“As I told the girls before the season, yes, I have a daughter playing on this team, but I no longer have just one, I have 15. You’re all on this team as one; let’s play that way.”
McGraw can clinch a tie for that fourth crown with a win over visiting Stockbridge Valley Tuesday. DeRuyter visits Cincinnatus the same day.
Cincinnatus 3, Stockbridge Valley 2: The Red Lions trailed 2-1 at halftime but did all of the second-half scoring to improve to 8-3 in league play and 11-4 overall. Junior forward Jenn Randall, who had opened the scoring just over 15 minutes into the game, tied the score 5:10 into the second half before assisting on the winning goal by senior midfielder Kortni Wright with 15:55 left.
“We controlled most of the game, with several opportunities to score, but lost control of the ball all too often,” said Bill Cobb, the Cincy co-coach, along with Kim Brown. “This gave the girls a hole to dig themselves out of. Jenn Randall started some great attacks in the middle of the field, but we were unable to reward her for her efforts.”
Cobb also cited Wright, sophomore defender JaLynne Smith and senior defender Jolene Eaton for their play.
Junior keeper Kim Shepard made three saves to four for the Cougars’ Bri Printup. Cincy visits Morrisville-Eaton Saturday in a non-league game.




Cortland knocks off CBA

The Cortland High boys’ soccer team took a big step toward the Class A sectionals Thursday night at their home away from home.
Luka Starmer’s goal 7:32 into the second half broke a 1-1 tie and stood up as the game-winner as the Purple Tigers beat second place visitor Syracuse CBA 2-1 at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. CHS is now 5-0 on that turf field since 2003, Thursday’s game moved because of unplayable field conditions at CHS.
“The guys were fired up,” Cortland coach Dan Law said of hearing about the change of site. “They love to go over there and play.”
Even more so now, undoubtedly.
Now 5-6-1 in the OHSL Freedom Division and 6-7-2 overall, the Purple Tigers need only a win or a tie in their final three games of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs.
Junior back Logan Marks collected an assist on Starmer’s game-winner, collecting a CBA clear and getting the ball to the senior midfielder, who turned and got off an unimpeded shot from 25 yards out that found the upper left corner of the net against CBA goalkeeper Tim Oot. Starmer was playing for the final time against the Brothers, coached by former Syracuse University standout Joe Papaleo, his off-season coach with the Syracuse Football Club.
“We knew their goalie was a little shaky,” Law said. “He’s been in and out of their starting lineup. It’s unusual to be unsettled at that position at this point of the season. We talked about challenging him.”
The Brothers (8-3 league, 11-3-1 overall) had opened the scoring with 11 minutes left in the first half, Ivan DuMerville scoring to the lower right past Purple Tiger keeper Brian Clifford. Starmer was fouled in the box with seven minutes left until intermission, and CHS senior striker Joaquim Queralt converted the resulting penalty kick to tie the score.
Law said that CBA had a couple of good opportunities after falling behind for the first time, including once when the ball went through the Cortland goal mouth untouched. He also praised his defense for its efforts.
“CBA’s L.J. Papaleo is the top scorer in the league, and I had Matt Marks and Josh Houck on him as marking backs,” Law said, turning to his senior defenders. “They kept him under wraps pretty much; he only had a couple of shots. Brian Clifford had a good game in goal, too.”




Playoff opportunity for Purple Tigers

Staff Writer

The Cortland High football team has played for this all season. Win, and you’re in.
The Purple Tigers host Fowler at 7 p.m. tonight at Moiseichik Field in the regular-season finale for both squads. Both teams come in at 2-3 in the Section 3 Class A American Division (and both are 2-4 overall). The winner, at 3-3, will claim fourth place, and the league’s final sectional berth, should host Mexico (3-2 league coming in) beat Chittenango (2-3) tonight. That would mean a trip to Carthage to face the A National champion Comets a week from today.
If the Bears beat Mexico, however, both of those teams, plus the Fowler-Cortland winner, would end up 3-3 in the league, with two playoff spots available. The first tiebreaker, according to the Section 3 Football Handbook, would be head-to-head results, and Cortland, having beaten Mexico (20-8) and lost to Chittenango (15-8), would finish fourth behind Chittenango, which would have beaten both Mexico and Cortland.
If Fowler and Chittenango win Friday, however, third place would be determined, according to the handbook, by first-half point differential in the first half in games between the three tied opponents, as all three would be 1-1 in head-to-head games. Fourth place would then go to the winner of the game between the remaining two teams.
All of which is just conjecture now to both coaches, who know that a win is the only way for their team to get into the sectionals.
“It would be nice to go to the playoffs,” said Cortland coach Dave Darrow, the Purple Tigers’ last sectional berth coming in 2004. “It should be a good game, plus it’s our Homecoming. I’d be concerned if our guys can’t get up to play for this one. I think they’ll be able to.”
“I expect it to be a good game,” Fowler coach John Natoli said. “The bottom line is that both teams have a lot to play for, but need a little help. It’s nice to see that a lot is at stake in a game at this point of the season. It means both teams have done a good job.
“Being on the road isn’t a concern for us; in fact, there are less distractions. We’re not a big home-field advantage team.”