October 23, 2006


CHS hands Homer first loss
Natoli goal in OT tops Trojans, 2-1


Photo provided by Dick Reygers
Cortland High’s Natalie Muka (4) leaps trying to get to the ball while being defended by Homer Central’s Kaylee Benz (18) Saturday night at Butts Field. Visiting CHS handed Homer its first loss, 2-1 in overtime.

Staff Writer

All the tension and excitement could be felt at George W. Butts Field Saturday night as Cortland High girls came to Homer Central for the OHSL Freedom Division regular season soccer finale with high hopes.
The Purple Tigers were having an outstanding season and were confident that they could be that first team to hand the rival Trojans their first loss of the season.
It took overtime to decide the outcome between state-ranked squads, but Cortland pulled off the biggest win in its history when Kim Natoli lofted a shot over the head of Trojan goalkeeper Hillary Simon 3:33 into the first of two mandatory 10-minute overtime periods. The first shot to get over the head of Simon all season long gave the Purple Tigers the 2-1 win and touched of a wild post-game celebration when the clock finally reached :00.
“To tell you the truth, it was all luck,” said Natoli, a senior midfielder. “I was so nervous out there. I just hit the ball. I was just excited that it went in. Hillary Simon is a great goalie and I was lucky to put the ball out of her reach. She is one of the best goalies that I have ever seen.
“We could not have done this as individuals. We did this as a team. I am really glad that we all came together and won this game together,” she added.
For 66 minutes, it looked like neither team was going to find the net — which wasn’t all that strange considering CHS came into the game with 11 shutouts on its resume while Homer had blanked seven straight foes and 14 overall.
The first half was scoreless with much of the play between the 18-yard lines. Homer (14-1-1 league, 16-1-1 overall) had a great scoring chance in the first half in the first 90 seconds on a direct kick, but Emily Swisher saw her hard shot deflect off a Cortland defender. The shot set-up the first of three Homer corner kicks in the match, but the restart by Laura Buerkle was headed away from the goal by Cortland sophomore Casey Marks.
The Purple Tigers (12-3-1, 14-3-1) counterattacked with Natalie Muka getting off a great shot that Simon (four saves) stopped. The ball came loose, but Katherine Hunsberger blasted the rebound attempt wide to the right of the goal. Cortland also had  a great scoring chance glance off the left post 13 minutes into the match before putting their best remaining efforts together in the final as Hunsberger and Aubrey Van Gorder each put good shots on target, only to have Simon make the saves.
Buerkle did put two hard shots on goal in the final eight minutes of the first half for the Trojans, but senior goalkeeper Natalie Khazzaka (13 saves) stopped both attempts.
SCORING CHANCES were fewer in the second half, but Homer broke the ice with 13:45 left in regulation time. A long throw-in got the ball near the top of the box and a scramble ensued for the loose ball. Erika Trivisonno was finally able to settled the ball long enough to fire a shot inside the right post to give the Trojans a 1-0 advantage. Meghan Finn just missed giving the Trojans a 2-0 lead a minute later, but Khazzaka made a nice save.
Neither team really controlled play much from that point on, but the Purple Tigers were keeping the ball in the Homer end of the field more. With 3:12 left in regulation time, Simon came out and got a good angle on Hunsberger, but the Cortland sophomore found enough of an opening to put the shot into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
With 1:54 to go, Cortland had a chance to win, but Simon made the save on another Hunsberger shot. Homer returned the favor as Finn rocketed a shot towards the right post with 20 seconds to go, but Khazzaka again made the save and forced overtime.
Natolti converted the only real scoring chance Cortland had in the first overtime, while the best Homer chance came on a 45-yard direct kick that went wide.
In the second OT, Khazzaka grabbed a good shot by Finn off a loose ball scramble with 8:11 left and she stopped a redirect attempt by Swisher off another Finn blast with 3:16 remaining.
“FORTUNATELY, WE came out on top tonight,” Cortland coach Abbey Albright said. “Every objective we talked about in our pre-game talk we achieved and that was the big reason that we came together and won tonight as a team.”
“Hillary had a great game in goal for Homer and I give her a lot of credit,” Albright added. “That takes nothing away from what Natalie did for us. I really think she played her best game ever. She came off the line well and communicated well with her teammates all night long.”
“We did not do the things we needed to do,” Homer coach Jim Baranello said, Senior Night for his squad spoiled. “We did not take advantage of the opportunities that we had and Cortland did. Congratulations to Cortland on their win.”
“It is almost a good thing that this did happen. It showed our girls how quickly a game can get away for them. You never want to lose a game, but it is better that is does happen in the regular season. I think our girls will focus more and they will not take anything for granted from this point on,” he added.
Cortland and Homer will both have first-round byes in the upcoming Section 3 Class A Tournament.
The Trojans are the number one-seed and will face the winners of the fifth-seed Indian River (11-4-2) at four-seed Christian Brothers Academy (11-4-2) game that will be played Thursday. The Purple Tigers are the number two-seed and will face the winner of the 10-seed V-V-S (8-9) at seven-seed Oneida (10-6-1) Tuesday match-up. No time or date has been announced for either game at this time.
CORTLAND JVs scored three times in the second half to post a 3-0 win over Homer Saturday at Butts Field. The Purple Tigers close out the season at 9-6-2 overall while the Trojans conclude at 4-12-1.
Kelsey Faberzak netted the first Cortland goal, which would be the game-winner, with 32 minutes left in the match. Maya Gebhardt (11:24) and Taylor Reynolds (2:48) added insurance goals for the Purple Tigers, who held a 13-2 shot advantage.




Dragon defense rises up

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — How do you make life easier for a sophomore quarterback making his first collegiate start for an undefeated football team?
Getting some inspired defensive play certainly helped, as SUNY Cortland rolled to a 41-3 victory over Saturday afternoon host Montclair State.
In this New Jersey Athletic Conference match-up at Sprague Field before a crowd of just over 1,000 fans, the Red Dragons picked off five passes and came up with seven quarterback sacks to keep the hosts out of the end zone.
Meanwhile, quarterback Ray Miles passed for three touchdowns and senior tailback Matt Rickert ran into the end zone twice as Cortland improved to 5-0 in league play and 7-0 overall. Miles was 14-of-22 passes for 223 yards in his second steady outing since having to take over for injured starter Alex Smith in the first quarter of last week’s 49-21 victory at Western Connecticut State.
Nine different Dragons would catch passes in the game, with Miles hooking up with fullback Mike Sveda, tight end Paul Caughell and tailback Dustin Bowser for TD tosses.
This is the best start by a Red Dragon team since 1990, when Cortland ended up 9-1 and in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Cortland also improved to 13-9-1 overall against Montclair State with its third straight triumph over the Red Hawks, their longest winning streak in the series since it won four in a row from 1993-1997.
Three of those five interceptions led to Cortland touchdowns, junior cornerback Jeff Beck leading the way with a pair of picks. And senior All-America defensive tackle Adam Haas was in on two of the seven sacks collected by an aggressive defense that limited Montclair State to just 184 yards. Linebackers Bill Hauser, Chris Gagstetter and Kyle Pierce, defensive end Ben Nagle and freshman defensive linemen Bryan Wiley also had sacks.
The only points the Red Hawks — now 2-2 in NJAC play and 4-3 overall — could muster came on a 47-yard field goal boot by Vin Doffont early in the second quarter.




Big final quarter gives Purple Tigers taste of victory

Staff Writer

Some halftime defensive tinkering and cutting down on costly mistakes did wonders for the Cortland High football team Saturday evening at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
In a clash between two 0-7 squads that was postponed from Friday night by wet grounds at Moiseichik Field, the Section 3 Class A American Division’s Purple Tigers scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and put one in the win column, 21-7, over Watertown of the A National.
“(Cortland defensive coordinator) Pete Reif made some good defensive adjustments for the second half,” an obviously pleased CHS head coach Jim Brown said.
“We wanted to get them into passing situations and the kids tackled better and pressured them better, playing with good enthusiasm,” he added, as the depleted Purple Cyclones were down to their third-string quarterback due to injuries. “As we made some stops, we started to get confidence after things hadn’t gone our way all year. We also didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We only had one turnover and three penalties for 20 yards. We were able to throw and run effectively and play a very deliberate and controlled game, which is the way we have to play.”
“When we ran the 5-3 (defense) in the first half they were able to get outside on us, and in the 4-3 they were able to move the ball inside,” Reif said. “In the second half we went to the 5-3 more on early downs, moved the nose guard over and started stunting the middle linebacker to shore up the middle. We also told the ends not to let anything get around them. We knew they were one-dimensional, with a young, inexperienced quarterback, and we were able to get a couple of interceptions.”
It all worked, as Watertown, which had 148 first-half yards (to 166 for Cortland), was held to just 79 in the second half. The visitors ended up with 227 total yards, all but 35 of it on the ground.
Cortland racked up 278 total yards, evenly-distributed between the ground (149) and the air (129).