October 23, 2013
CHS breezes into semifinals
Everything but the halftime scoreboard reflected the way the sixth-seeded Cortland High boys’ soccer team was dominating No. 11 Central Valley Academy in Tuesday night’s chilly Section 3 Class A first-round game at Moiseichik Field.
The Purple Tigers took care of that little detail in the second half, scoring four goals in what ended up a 5-0 win to improve to 10-4-3 and earn a spot in the quarterfinals against host Watertown (14-0-2) — the third seed — Thursday in a 6 p.m. start.
Coach Brian Rozewski’s team had a 1-0 lead at intermission Tuesday courtesy of senior midfielder Kristian Reynolds’ fourth goal of the season, from 25 yards out off a feed from fellow senior midfielder Eamonn Mahar, 16:20 before the break. The hosts took 15 shots in the first 40 minutes and didn’t allow the Thunder to take any, a feat CHS duplicated in the second half while adding 13 more of their own for a final 28-0 shot advantage.
Sophomore goalie Clay Colburn helped the visitors keep the game close, making 14 saves in the first half and 21 for the game while Cortland senior Tracey Shelley was mostly idle.
Colburn tipped a high shot by senior midfielder Brett Timmons just over the crossbar 12 minutes into the game and had at least three point-blank saves on the night. The one shot that got by him before Reynolds’ goal was a dead ball that had caromed down off the football crossbar and went in.
The visitors never came close to mounting an offensive threat in the first half, in fact never getting the ball closer than 30 yards from the goal in Cortland’s end of the field. They did earn their only corner kick (to 17 for Cortland) just over three minutes into the second half, but it was easily cleared out by the Cortland defense.
WITH ALL THAT, though, the margin was still just one goal at halftime. Asked if he was concerned by that, Cortland coach Brian Rozewski said “No. We had possessed the ball and kept them in their end of the field the whole half, not giving them any opportunities to score. In the second half they did get down in our end, but our whole bench was in then.
“I think it’s good that we got the chance to work on possession, to move the ball with one or two touches and drop it quickly. I also told the team that persistence pays off,” he added.
“I was very pleased at halftime, knowing that one good chance could keep us in the game,” Thunder coach James Mott said. “We scrimmaged Cazenovia early, and saw what Cortland did against them (a 5-1 win on Sept. 14). We knew that we had to have a defensive mindset, and that 11 (Justin Prentice) and 22 (Mahar) were the ones we had to focus on.
“We shifted to three attackers from two early in the second half to try to score quickly, and when it didn’t happen we went back to two. We switched back to three just before they scored their last three.”
THAT PROVED TO BE the case in the second half, when the Purple Tigers added the scoreboard to their areas of dominance. Senior defender Brian Litzenberger scored his first goal of the season off a rebound from 10 yards out, Mahar picking up his Section 3-best 21st assist on the play, 11:45 into the second.
Junior forward Prentice scored the next two goals 2:22 apart, at 15:54 and 13:32, and now has a team-high 24 goals this season. The first was from 10 yards out off an assist from Reynolds, and the second, from point-blank range, came off a rebound, with Litzenberger getting the assist.
Junior midfielder Nisarga Paul closed out the scoring with 11:58 left, picking up a loose ball off a pass from Reynolds with Colburn down and putting it home.
“We had a lot of shots, and I was able to put a couple in,” Prentice said. “Kristian’s goal got us pumped up; there was a little concern at halftime, but we were pumped. We knew we were playing well,. and talked about maintaining possession.
“This win has us pumped to go up to Watertown and try to get the win.”
SHELLEY WASN’T CALLED on to make any saves as he and his defense notched their fourth shutout of the season on a night when the temperature kept falling. He did grab one crossing pass to thwart a possible threat, and the Thunder was also able to send a ball across the box from the left side late that went harmlessly through.
“You just have to think about the game, which helps you stay in it,” he said. “You get out of it a little, and with the cold you can tighten up. We weren’t really concerned about only being up one goal at the half; the defense did a really good job of not letting them get any shots.
“This was a big win. Now we’re going to Watertown, and we think we can beat anybody.”
“It’s a little more challenging playing two teams (in sectionals) that we don’t know about,” Rozewski said. “I know Watertown is undefeated, but not how to prepare for them. We’ll just prepare our own game. This win is good motivation going in.”
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