October 29, 2011
Eagles don’t slip up against SV
Semi showdown with Cincy next
Having beaten Stockbridge Valley twice in Central Counties League play this season by a cumulative score of 15-0, the second-seeded McGraw Central boys’ soccer team came into Friday’s Section 3 Class D-1 quarterfinal game with the visiting No. 7 Cougars in a good frame of mind.
Maybe too good.
“I think they looked beyond this game a little bit, thinking it would be another cakewalk,” Eagles coach Cory Smith said after his squad had slipped and slid its way to a muddy 3-0 win. “But hats off to Stockbri dge Valley. They’re a lot better than when we played them at the beginning of the season.”
“I think we came in cocky, thinking it would be easy,” said McGraw junior forward Nick Cowen, who scored all three of his team’s goals — giving him 29 on the season — before leaving with a foot injury late. “We didn’t come out as hard as we should have, but coach lit a fire under us at halftime.”
That won’t be necessary in the next game, as the Eagles, now 15-1, will face rival Cincinnatus (14-1-1), the third seed, in the semifinals after the host Red Lions beat No. 6 Belleville-Henderson 3-0 in another Friday quarterfinal.
The date, site and time of the third meeting this season between the CCL regular season co-champions and longtime rivals had not been set as of press time.
McGraw 3, Stockbridge Valley 0: It only took the hosts 3:14 to open the scoring in the contest as Cowen slid onto a cross from the left side off the foot of senior midfielder Jason Griffin and put the ball past SV senior goalie Richard Denison.
Despite a good number of chances, including three hit crossbars, McGraw didn’t score again until 12:27 remained in the game when Cowen converted off a free kick from junior sweeper David Levitskiy. Just 50 seconds later the scoring, and Cowen’s hat trick, were complete as he put home a corner kick from the left side by Griffin.
“Jason made a good cross and I slid onto it for the first goal,” Cowen said. “The ball came loose in the box after a cross from David on the next one, and I beat a defender and scored. On the third goal, Jason’s corner kick skimmed off a head and landed on my foot.”
Cowen suffered an injured right foot with 7:46 left during a scramble inside the box and was carried off. He noted that he went to shoot and kicked the bottom of a Cougar defender’s foot. “I’ll be ready to go next game,” he said.
“It was another win, another shutout and our defense played well,” Smith said, his team now 16-1 on the season, having scored 81 goals and allowed just four while blanking 14 opponents. “We got things going in the second half, got some pressure on them, but for a lot of the game didn’t hustle to the ball the way we should. Austin (Chambers, McGraw’s senior goalie) wasn’t challenged much, but at certain points they outhustled us to the ball.
“David Levitskiy at sweeper, (junior) Aaron Hitt at stopper, right back Justin Morgan (junior) and left back Mark Hitt (senior, Aaron’s brother) did a nice job as a defensive unit. The field’s not the best, but that’s probably the case everywhere in the state that isn’t turf,” he added.
The winners had a 29-4 shot advantage in the contest after outshooting SV 15-0 in the first half. Chambers made three saves before sophomore Ryan White came on for the last seven minutes and stopped one shot. Cougar goalie Richard Denison made 12 saves.
“I’m very proud of them,” Stockbridge Valley coach Pete Kiehn said of his squad, which finished the season 7-9-1. “We had a good second half of the season after only winning twice the first half. We were able to get some momentum after making a few lineup changes, qualify for sectionals and carry it through this week. I told them at halftime that anything can happen, not to get down and to play hard the rest of the game.
“McGraw has a good defense, and is hard to knock one in on. We practice on footing like this at home, and try to prepare for it. It’s hard to play the same team three times in a season, but I thought we had a little bit better feeling coming in this time.”
“I’m not sure we’re getting the respect we deserve,” said McGraw’s Smith. “But I told this team before the season that they could do something, that it was up to them if they did it or not and that they had the opportunity to go places. We’ve got a great record and beat Cincy when they were the number one team in the state. Now we’ll get up for the next game.”
The Eagles scored a 1-0 double-overtime victory over the visiting Red Lions last Wednesday (Oct. 19) as the two teams shared the CCL championship with 11-1 records. Cincy had won the first game 2-1 at SUNY Cortland back on Oct. 8.
“We want to play Cincy again,” Cowen said. “I think we have a point to make. We have to clean things up.”
Cincinnatus 3, Belleville-Henderson 0: Senior sweeper Joe Peri had a goal, his 15th, and an assist while senior sweeper-stopper William Loomis and senior striker Nick Constantino each scored once as the Red Lions improved to 14-1-1. Loomis now has two goals while Constantino leads the team in goals with 17. Sophomore goalkeeper Shea Feehan made three saves for his 10th shutout of the season.
“We played a solid, well-rounded game of soccer today, scoring one goal on transition and two off of set plays,” Cincy coach Gordy Brown said. “The boys were ready to go and dominated most of the play, leaving an opportunity for everyone to get a chance at the field, including JV players brought along for sectionals. Late in the game Shea Feehan came out on top, saving a penalty kick.”
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