October 16, 2009


Trojans trim Tigers in OT


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Luke Pedersen (7) of Homer Central goes flying after colliding with T.J. Bardsley (18) and Eric Burch of Cortland High during Thursday’s OHSL Freedom Division soccer clash. Visiting Homer pulled out a 1-0 overtime victory.

Staff Writer

It was a play that the Homer Central boys’ soccer team had run through time and again in practice, in good weather and bad.
Never, though, in weather as bad as Thursday afternoon’s cold and light snow, when senior outside midfielder Brett Compton scored off a corner kick from the right-wing side by junior striker Taeho Ryu that was flicked to him by senior center midfielder Brett Stokoe 4:20 into the first sudden-death overtime period to give the Trojans a 1-0 victory at Cortland High.
“The ball just came down next to my foot, and I put it in,” Compton said with a smile of his second goal of the season. “That’s how we worked on it in practice, and it worked out.”
“We’ve practiced that all year, and I think that’s the first time we’ve done it right,” Homer coach Dave Shiffman said with a laugh, inspired at least partially by the fact that the win ended a three-game losing streak and improved his team to 5-5 in the OHSL Freedom Division. More importantly, being 7-7 overall gives the Trojans 14 points and qualifies them for post-season play.
“Lately we’ve been giving up goals on set pieces, including two on corner kicks to CBA and one on a free kick to Chittenango. Against a tough Cortland team, two set pieces are the only thing separating us,” added Shiffman, referring to a free kick goal by senior striker Luke Pedersen in a 1-0 Trojan home win over CHS on Sept. 15. “These two teams are close. In the overtime tonight, we just got going right away. This was our first road win of the season. Now we have to win one outside of the county.”
“We had a good practice yesterday, and our warmup looked really good,” a subdued Purple Tigers coach Nick Kline said. “I was confident going in. We played pretty well, but we seemed to be missing something during large portions of the game, and I can’t put my finger on just what. Something was lacking that I thought we had the first time around against them. We spent a lot more time in our offensive end then that we did in this game.
“Our guys turned it on a lot in the last five or 10 minutes (of regulation), and were able to provide us with some opportunities. I was hoping that this game didn’t go into overtime. Despite our best efforts, overtime seems to be our nemesis this year.”
In fact, Cortland has now played in three overtime contests this season, and lost all three in the first of could have been two extra sessions.
The sloppy. slippery conditions made it hard for both teams to make any cuts with the ball and affected passing accuracy. Cortland senior midfielder Josh Tomko and junior forward Colby Reagan, in particular, made nice crossing passes that might have led to goals in better conditions. And senior midfielder Brandon Planck sailed one high and just wide to the left from the right side in the final minute of the first half.
But the best opportunity of the night belonged to Pedersen, who along with Ryu seemed to be everywhere all night. Out of a scramble in front, Pedersen took a shot 11:15 into the second half that looked like it would find the back of the net, only to be kicked out by Purple Tiger senior goalkeeper Ben Darby while he was down.Darby made another good stop with about 15 minutes remaining, diving to his left and tipping a shot by Stokoe up and to the right wing side.
Darby and Homer senior keeper Johannes Helgren both made four saves in the contest, the winners with an 8-6 shot advantage. Helgren now has three shutouts this season.
“In the second half we had some opportunities, and Darby made a great save on Brett,” Shiffman said. “We finally got the ball wide and forced him to come outside, which was dangerous. On a day like today, it’s tough to get anything going. We’d struggled a little the last couple games; we lost our mojo, or whatever you want to call it. But today we looked much better. Hopefully we can keep going at this level now that we’re in the playoffs.
“We’d had some players look good at times while others didn’t. There was some of that tonight, but on the whole everyone worked hard and supported each other. Taeho had a solid game, with a solid work rate, Brett did a good job and (junior midfielder) Keefe Garrett gave us some very good minutes.”
“Homer did a nice job,” Kline said. “They played us tough, and they have some creative set plays. This was the second time they were able to sneak one in on us. We had some nice opportunities; it would have been nice to finish one to give ourselves some momentum.
“Josh and (senior center midfielder) Dan Miller provided consistent leadership, and today their hustle was impressive,” Kline said. “Ben is someone you don’t have to worry about making mistakes; he’s a solid presence in the box. Both goalies are solid players. The conditions affected both teams; we thought since Homer plays on a turf field that is might work to our advantage. But it was just too sloppy to favor either team; it was hard to get any footing.”
In any event, Shiffman, whose team next visits Mexico on Tuesday before closing out the regular season by hosting Jamesville-DeWitt at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, noted that the Trojans practice on a grass field that was plenty slippery Wednesday, so they were ready.
And it showed.
The loss dealt a blow to the Purple Tigers’ playoff hopes, as they fell to 3-7 in league play and 4-9 overall, meaning they need at least two wins and a tie in their last three games to qualify.
Cortland hosts Jamesville-DeWitt at 4:30 p.m. Monday and is at Chittenango Tuesday before finishing the regular season with a home game against East Syracuse-Minoa Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
HOMER JVs also beat Cortland 1-0 as Andras Tozser scored on a penalty kick to the lower left corner with 29:12 left in the game after a handball in the box of a pass by Zach Randal. Taylor Withiam earned the shutout with two saves to three by CHS’s Chad Timmons, the hosts with an 8-5 shot advantage.
“The team really played together and were pumped for the game, which helped a lot,” Trojans coach Chad Totman said after the win at Cortland’s Barry School.
“Nick Franceschelli, Travis Kryger-Stramba, David Hines and Pat McMahon worked well as a defensive unit today,” said Cortland coach Tom Dovi, whose team is now 5-6-1. “Our midfielders played well, but Homer’s defense did a nice job of limiting our scoring opportunities.”
The Purple Tiger JVs visit Chittenango on Tuesday.