October 24, 2013
Purple Tigers rally to victory
Nips CV 4-3 in first round
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Bailey Potter (25) of Cortland High mixes it up with Central Valley defenders Sam Hyde (left), goalie Sam Ulrich, and Nikki Pickett (right) in front of the CV goal on Wednesday in the Class B tournament. Host CHS won, 4-3.
The Cortland High field hockey team made some program history Wednesday evening, and it was a family affair.
Junior Erin Brown, the daughter of coach Jamie Brown, scored the tying and winning goals as the third-seeded Purple Tigers rallied for a 4-3 win over No. 6 Central Valley Academy in a chilly, wet Section 3 Class B first-round game at Moiseichik Field.
It was the first post-season win for a CHS team since a 2-0 win over New Hartford in the 2001 Class B semifinals. Cortland fell to Camden 3-0 in the championship game at the Carrier Dome that year, and this fall’s edition of the Purple Tigers will meet Camden (11-3-1), the second seed, in the semifinals at Fayetteville-Manlius Sunday in a noon start.
“The kids were asking Monday about the last time we hosted a sectional game and the last time we won,” Jamie Brown said, her team having improved to 8-7-1 overall. “They planted the seed of that inner desire, that they were going to work at it. I was thinking (Tuesday) about how this group has come so far this season and they battled, got a home game and won.”
“I’m really glad I got to win a sectional game with my mom coaching,” said Erin Brown, who now has a team-high 13 goals on the season. “It feels really good that we won the first home sectional game that we’ve had in a long time. It was really a team effort.”
Cortland, which led 2-1 at halftime, suddenly found itself down 3-2 after Thunder senior forward Makayla Donato scored twice — her second and third goals of the game, giving her five on the season — in a span of 1:32 to give the visitors a 3-2 lead with 20:15 left. Senior forward Sam Hyde assisted on the first of those scores.
“I was a little concerned at that point,” Jamie Brown said of being behind for the first and only time in the game. “But the girls pulled together; I told them to stay positive.”
The hosts pressed the attack, including one near-miss that went just wide, and it finally paid off with 14:42 left when Erin Brown went down the right side and took a hard shot from around five yards out that rattled off the side and back boards of the cage before coming out. After conferring, the officials ruled it a goal.
Purple Tigers senior goalie Mikayla Cerio kept it a tie game with a kick save of a shot from deep on the near right wing by Donato with 11:30 left. Coach Brown called a timeout with 7:18 left, and from there her squad took control. Off a penalty corner, senior midfielder Taylor Thomas connected with Brown some 10 yards out in the center of the field. Her shot deflected up off a defender’s stick and into the cage past Thunder junior goalie Sam Urich with 5:15 left.
The Cortland defense was able to contain the visitors from that point, and when the final game-ending horn sounded the entire team rushed together in celebration in front of its cage.
“I tried to go to the non-stick side, dribbled in on their weak side and got by a defender on the first goal,” said Erin Brown, a midfielder who was moved up to right wing down the stretch to help spark the offense. “I knew that it went in. Taylor set me up for the second one, and when it hit the defender’s stick the goalie couldn’t get to it. Taylor, Emily (Saracene, senior forward) and I work well together.”
“The game-winner was a designed play that we work on,” Jamie Brown said. “I call those two our Dynamic Duo; they feed off each other and have a sense of where the other one is going to be. And late in the game I moved (senior) Morgan Larkin back from midfield to mark Donato. I knew she would rise to the challenge.”
“The girls kept on working right to the end,” said CVA coach Ashley Hoffman, whose team — the result of a summer merger between the Ilion and Mohawk school districts — finished 5-10-1. “Especially on turf, the ball moves so quickly and you can get down the field in one rush and score. But we weren’t able to get the ball back long enough to do that.
“We’ve had some trouble with getting behind in games this season and then trying to get back into them. But we’ve done a batter job the last few times and we’ve kind of moved past that. Makayla started out the year as a scorer for us, then went into a slump. But in this game, she was on fire. She made it work.”
“It felt good, after being in a slump, to help the team come back today,” an emotional Donato said. “Sam (Hyde) helped with give-and-goes.”
Thomas started the scoring in the game from close range for her sixth goal of the season, controlling a rebound of a save by Urich and finding the back of the cage with 13:12 left in the first half. Donato scored unassisted from deep on the the left side with 7:58 remaining, but 59 seconds later senior forward Makayla Edwards picked up a loose ball off another rebound and gave CHS its 2-1 halftime lead with her fifth goal this fall.
Cortland had a 14-11 shot advantage and got seven saves from Cerio, including a couple of sparkling point-blank stops, while Urich made eight saves for CVA.
CORTLAND JVs closed their season last Saturday, losing to visiting Port Byron/Union Springs 2-0 to finish the season 1-9 in the OHSL and 1-11 overall. Freshman goalie Lexi Walts made 10 saves to three for the Panthers’ Kareigh McLaughlin, the winners with a 13-6 shot advantage.
Katie Locastro scored with 12:36 left in the first half for Port Byron/Union Springs, and Alli Ryan closed out the scoring with 3:32 remaining in the game.
“I was very proud of my team,” Purple Tigers coach Maureen White said. “They left everything out on the field, playing with only one sub due to injuries. They have improved over the course of the season and in many games their play was much better than the score reflected.
“Our offense had many passing series to get us into the offensive end of the field; unfortunately we were unable to finish the ball in the circle. Our defense marked well and let Lexi do her job of clearing the ball out of the circle.”
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