October 29, 2008
CHS back in the finals
Four VanGorder goals spark semifinal win over Fulton
CHITTENANGO — The wind and snow did little to stop Aubrey VanGorder Tuesday evening on Chittenango’s turf field. Neither did the Fulton girls’ soccer team’s defense.
Led by a career-high four goals by the speedy junior forward, the top-seeded Purple Tigers rolled to a 5-1 win over the No. 4 Red Raiders in the Section 3 Class A semifinals.
Defending champion CHS, ranked 19th in the state in Class A this week, thus advanced to the finals for the third straight season. The Purple Tigers face No. 6 Jamesville-DeWitt (12-8-1) for the title in a game tentatively scheduled by the section for 5 p.m. Friday back at Chittenango.
Jamesville-DeWitt blanked No. 7 Chittenango 1-0 at West Genesee High in Camillus in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Asked if she enjoyed playing on the turf, VanGorder laughed and said “I think so. But it definitely wasn’t easy, especially with the (weather) conditions. I like playing on turf better, It’s faster.”
So was VanGorder, who went over, around and through myriad Fulton defenders in scoring four goals in a row — giving her a team-high 18 this season — after senior midfielder Casey Marks opened the scoring 12:12 into the game.
“Aubrey had some great offensive runs today,” Cortland coach Abbey Albright said. “She is much quicker than Fulton’s defenders, and she took advantage of that. It’s nice not to have to rely on just one girl to score for us. That’s what we’ll need in order to continue with this success.
“During our two sectional games we’ve also had three goals from Katherine Hunsberger, while three other players had had single goals,” she added, Hunsberger’s hat trick coming in a 6-0 romp over No. 9 seed Carthage last Thursday. “That says a lot about our offense.”
The game belonged to the Purple Tigers (now 16-4 and on a nine-game winning streak) from the outset, as, playing with a strong north wind at their backs, they hit the post with two shots in the first four minutes and just missed beating Red Raider goalie Brianna Streeter to two long balls.
“We were fortunate enough to get some quick goals shortly after that to keep our momentum going,” Albright said. “With the wet snow and wind, it was important to get on the scoreboard early to set the tone. Before the game we discussed how the weather would have an impact on us offensively and defensively. The girls did a great job of handling the playing conditions.”
Marks opened the scoring with a picture-perfect goal, flashing in from the right side and heading home a perfectly-placed free kick from 30 yards out by junior defender Kelsey Faberzak.
“WE’VE BEEN working on that play in practice,” Marks said with a grin afterwards. “It was a great play. After we scored the next goal to go up 2-0, it was still scary; you can’t bank on that. After the third or fourth goal we were more confident.”
The winners’ second goal of the game, VanGorder’s first of the evening, came with 25:54 left in the first half. Seconds after Red Raider sophomore midfielder Leah Phillips hit the left post after splitting the defense and CHS junior goalkeeper Hannah Polanko-Baker smothered the rebound, VanGorder hit the right post and followed her own shot to hit an open net.
“That was a heartbreaker for us,” said Fulton coach George Beckwith, whose team finished the season at 11-7-1. “We had that opportunity, missed and suddenly they scored again. Cortland is an excellent team, one of the best in the area, and we knew we had to play a perfect game to win.
“Give them credit. They came out tough, executed and controlled the game. They’re definitely a force to be reckoned with in the finals, and it they win there, in states.”
“We knew that Fulton was going to be looking for Phillips and Michelle Bateman (senior forward) up top to get them some quick balls to run on to,” Albright said. “We were fortunate that one of those runs hit the post early and came back to Hannah for the save. From that point on, I think the girls realized that we needed to play the full game in order to come out ahead.”
VanGorder scored again 6:33 later, coming down the near right wing and eluding a trio of Fulton defenders to make it 3-0. She completed her hat trick 13:11 before halftime with her third goal in a span of 12:43, taking a pass from junior midfielder Elle DePerno and scoring from deep on the right side.
Fulton averted the shutout with only the second goal Cortland has allowed in its nine-game string of victories (while scoring 31 times), sophomore midfielder Morgan Cooper connecting from 10 yards out off an assist from Phillips 6:24 into the second half.
VanGorder finished off her big game with 13:49 left, scoring the only goal of the game that came against the wind from 25 yards out on the right off a lead pass from Marks.
WHILE THE WIN showcased the Cortland offense, Albright was also justifiable proud of her defense and noted that Kaylee Gebhardt (sophomore defender) did an outstanding job on the outside defense to shut down Fulton’s attack. She was very solid and smart with her play throughout the game.”
The win avenged one of the Purple Tigers’ four losses this season, 4-2 against visiting Fulton Sept. 25 while undermanned. “I didn’t hear any of the girls mention that they wanted to beat Fulton because we had lost to them earlier,” Albright said. “They just wanted to keep their season going, no matter who their opponent was. It was nice to see for OHSL Freedom Division teams in the semifinals; it shows how strong our league is when it comes to Section 3 Class A.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to playing teams that you’ve seen before. We’ve beaten Jamesville-DeWitt 3-1 (Sept. 16 in DeWitt) and 3-0 (Oct. 10 at home) this season, but when it comes to soccer, especially playoffs, anything can happen if a team doesn’t take care of itself. These girls have seen first-hand the difference between winning or losing a sectional final, so we have that advantage with us.”
“I don’t think it matters who we play in the finals,” VanGorder said before the results of the other semifinal were known. “We just have to go out and play our game.”
“Not really,” Marks said when asked if she had a preference for a finals opponent. “Against either (J-D or Chittenango), it will be a great game.”
Cortland 5, Fulton 1
Fulton 0 1 — 1
Cortland 4 1 — 5
Goals-Assists: Fulton- Morgan Cooper 1-0, Michelle Bateman 0-1. Cortland- Aubrey VanGorder 4-0, Casey Marks 1-0, Kelsey Faberzak 0-1, Elle DePerno 0-1, Katherine Hunsberger 0-1.
Shots: Cortland 26, Fulton 9.
Corner Kicks: Cortland 6, Fulton 2.
Saves: Brianna Streeter (F) 11, Hannah Polanko-Baker (C) 2.
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