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November 2, 2011

 

Marathon stickers return to final

Olympians go chasing after 12th sectional title Saturday

Field Hockey

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tatum Knapp gets a hug after scoring Marathon’s second goal of the game in Tuesday’s 2-0 home field victory over Windsor in the Section 4 Class C semifinals.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

MARATHON — While a Section 4 championship is always a goal for nearly every team at the start of the season, reaching that title game is not always the end result.
In the case of Marathon Central and its vaunted field hockey program, that’s a different story.
For the sixth straight season the Olympians return to the Class C title match in search of its 12th sectional championship after posting a 2-0 semifinal round victory over Windsor on Tuesday afternoon at Appleby Elementary School.
Top-seeded Marathon (16-1) will face sixth-seed Sidney (9-7-1) — who upset second-seed Harpursville (13-4) 2-1 in yesterday’s other semifinal — Saturday in the 7 p.m. final at Greene Central School.
The fifth-seeded Black Knight (9-9) didn’t make it easy for Marathon, even though the visitors amassed just four shots. There were six penalty corners for Windsor and other trips into the circle where they just could not get shots off because of the Olympians’ defense. It certainly a game where Marathon had to rise to the occasion against a tough competitor.
“We definitely did,” said senior center back Margaret Thon. “We really worked well together as a team, especially today. We picked each other up and really went after the ball if someone missed it.
“It is the first year on defense for most of us,” she added. “We have really picked up it the last few games and we look forward to the next game now. It takes a lot of communication for us to work well and we are doing that better.”
“Margaret as a center back really plays at both ends of the field,” Marathon coach Karen Funk said. “She can be in the offensive zone and then is able to get back quickly and back up Ashton (Hawks) and the rest of her teammates. Margaret knows how to play at both ends of the field.”
“It wasn’t an easy game,” senior goalkeeper Samantha McMahon said after a three-save performance and 12th shutout of 2011. “They (Windsor) really made me work hard. They got around the circle fast and they were a tough team to beat.
“The seven-nothing, eight-nothing games do get boring and I like to have these close runners at times,” she added. “With them working me hard, I was happy with the way things work out. Even though I didn’t have like 50 saves and a 5-0 score, I was diving around and I really had fun out there.”
With McMahon, Thon, Ashton Hawks, Kassidy Stone and Emily Lawrence taking care of the back line, it was up to midfielders Amanda Horton, Allie McConnell and Eryn Griep, along with forwards Shelby Underwood, Tatum Knapp and others to put the ball into the goal.
“Kassidy was one of the girls new to the defense this year,” McMahon said. “She really picked it up quickly and they all work together back here. I feel confident when the ball comes down to the 25-yard line that they will get the ball back out quickly.”
“Sam made three saves,” Funk said. “Three saves means they didn’t score three goals. The last two games have been great games for us. If you reach the finals and you don’t have some close games, it really doesn’t help you. We learned a lot from playing a tough team like Windsor. They worked the ball down the field and our defense never gave up.
“Eryn and Cienna Morrison had very good games,” she continued. “Eryn and Amanda Horton really had their work cut out for themselves today and handled it well. Tatum moved back into the midfield for a while and Cienna really did come in and do a nice job in her second game as a sophomore up from the JV team. Everyone really stepped up today. It was a good team effort.”
After six penalty corners and a couple of good saves by Windsor keeper Rachel Goetz (13 saves), Marathon finally broke through, Morrison got to the ball in the circle and set-up Underwood with a nice pass. Underwood banged the shot home for her 34th goal of the season and 59th of her career with 13:29 left in the first half. It would be the only goal of the half.
The Olympians kept the pressure up and finished with a 15-2 shot advantage for the first 30 minutes. Both Black Knight shots came in the final minute of the half. One was on target, but McMahon made a solid kick save.
The second half was more evenly played. Marathon kept the pressure on, but Windsor had a couple of counterattacks that got the ball in the circle. Still the Black Knights only got one shot in the same span that McMahon kicked away.
The best Windsor scoring chance came with 7:45 left on the match. On a penalty corner insert, the ball caromed around in the circle before Taylor Plonski missed a wide open hole near the far left post. Her shot went just wide of the goal and out of bounds.
The Olympians hustled down the field and Knapp tried to sweep the ball into the goal with a diving shot that Goetz dove for as well and deflected away from the goal with 6:21 left. A little more than one minute later Knapp got a second chance. Her first shot was stopped by Goetz, but Knapp was right there after being denied and took the rebounded ball and poked it into the goal for a 2-0 lead with 5:08 to play. It was Knapp’s 25th this season and the 51st of her career.
“Nothing is easy at this time of the year,” Knapp said. “You don’t know what is going to happen so you know that if you play your heart out, you’ll definitely come out with a win. That’s what we did today as a team.
“You have to come out with 100 percent effort every game,” she added. “That’s we we did and that’s what I need to do every game.”
Windsor made one late push but, despite pleas from Black Knight coach Joan Van Riper to “take a shot”, the flurry died and Marathon was returning to the Section 4 championship game.
“I really hope we win,” Knapp said. “We have really worked so hard since the first day of pre-season. I have confidence in my teammates that we will have a good night Saturday.”

 

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