November 2 , 2006


Rivalry intensified

CHS, Homer girls set for Class A title showdown


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Senior Meghan Finn is key factor in the success enjoyed by the top-seeded Homer Central girls’ soccer team this fall.

Staff Writer

Friday night will be the culmination of a dream for a number of high school girls who have been playing together since their youth soccer days. Ironically, some of those off-season teammates will be on opposite benches when Cortland High and Homer Central take the field for the Section 3 Class A Soccer Championship match at 7:30 p.m. at SUNY-Cortland. The Trojans (18-1-1 overall) are the top-seed and ranked tenth in the latest state poll while the Purple Tigers (16-3-1) are the number two-seed in the tournament. That’s 33 wins and two ties total between two schools less than five miles apart.
Homer advanced to the Class A championship match with a thrilling 1-0 overtime win Tuesday over two-time defending sectional champion Christian Brothers Academy 1-0 on a goal by Meghan Finn while Cortland rolled past Whitesboro 4-2. Casey Marks netted two goals for the Purple Tigers in their win.
During the regular season, the local neighboring rivals, split their two encounters. Homer won 6-3 at Cortland on September 15, while the Purple Tigers handed the Trojans their only loss 2-1 in overtime at Butts Field on October 19.
“The girls are really excited about getting to play Homer again after we split the first two games,” said Cortland coach Abbey Albright. “We have a couple of specific things (which she wouldn’t divulge) we’re going to work on in practice this week to get ready.
“Going into the semifinals, we knew both teams (Homer and CBA) that we might play if we made the finals,” she added. “Each had a different style that we’d have to adjust to. But the girls are more focused on taking care of themselves than on who we’re going to play. Just like in any other game, we have to take care of our 80 minutes and focus on our strengths as a team. Mentally, we’ll come prepared and ready to take care of things.”
For Homer coach Jim Baranello, it is a goal that his team has strived_for all four seasons he has coached Trojan teams and those young ladies on both benches.
“This is a great game for Cortland County,” Baranello stated. “There really are a lot of good players in Cortland County. They are now all maturing and coming of age. I could not be happier that it is Homer and Cortland. It is just great that we are both in the sectional final. My kids are very excited about getting to play Cortland again. It should really be a great game.”
Junior forward Natalie Muka is the leading scorer for Cortland with 18 goals and five assists for 41 points. She is one of many talented of the Purple Tigers roster.
“Everyone is really excited and nervous at the same time,” Muka said. “We both have really good records, and it’s going to be a really good game. We’re both so fired up and excited, and on top of it we’re rivals.
“Almost all of us played together on the same club teams, the Crown City Force, which is older girls, and Flash, which is younger ones. Jim Baranello coaches both teams, and it’s definitely strange to see him on the other bench, but you just have to remember who you play for.”
Muka says there is another key to the improvement in the Cortland program this season.
“Coach Albright has helped us so much with practice and everything she’s done for us,” she said. “She’s helped us through the down periods and has given us a lot of words of wisdom at halftime to inspire us.”
Sophomores Katherine Hunsberger (11g-4a-26 pts) and Casey Marks (7g-8a-22 pts.), plus senior Kim Natoli (7-3-17) are other key components to the Cortland offensive attack.
Homer is led offensively by a player who has a state championship medal while she was in McGraw, who happens to be in the Class D finals at SUNY-Cortland as well. Senior midfielder Laura Buerkle has 24 goals and 16 assists for 64 points this season and 43 goals, 35 assists 121 career points for the Trojans in two seasons. Her season goal and points totals are new school records.
Senior forward Meghan Finn has added 37 points (15 goals-7 assists) and has really been the clutch scorer with five of six game-winning goals in 1-0 victories this season. Juniors Kaylee Benz (9-6-24) and Emily Swisher (8-5-21) are also part of Trojan offense that has scored a school-record 76 goals this season and has 203 total points.
“In feels so good to be in the finals,” Finn said. “It is great that we get to play Cortland, which makes it even better. It really should a great game. I can’t wait.”
The key to this game will really rest with the defense and goaltending. Homer has one of the best in four-year starting senior keeper Hillary Simon, who enters the game with a 0.39 goals-against average and has been in goal during all 16 shutouts. Freshman Danielle Reygers has also shared some time and part of the school-record shutout total.
Senior defender Molly Siwula shares the leadership duties for the Trojans with strong support from junior Meghan Marchetti, sophomore Morgan_Osborne.
Overall, Homer has surrender just seven goals all season long, but it has been Cortland who has had the most success, scoring five of the_seven goals.
Senior goalkeeper Natalie Khazzaka has posted 12 shutouts in 2006 and sports a stellar 0.80 goals-against average and she anchors the Purple Tigers defense along with senior defender Stephanie VanGorder. Junior Katie Apley has seen some time in goal for the Purple Tigers in 2006 as well. Cortland has surrendered just 14 goals this season and, again, their Friday opponent Homer has scored seen of those goals.
Make no mistake though. While there have been just a few names mentioned, both Albright and Baranello will tell you that it is every player on their roster (17 for Homer, 21 for Cortland) that has helped get their respective teams to this point in the season.
No matter who you are rooting for, or if you are just a fan of soccer in general, mark down this Friday night match as a must-see along with all the rest of the Section 3 boys and girls finals that will be take place Friday and Saturday at the SUNY-Cortland Stadium Complex.




TC3 swept in openers

OLEAN — The stage was set for a dramatic season-opener for Tompkins Cortland Community College women’s basketball Wednesday night, but when an eight-footer at the buzzer rimmed out, the Panthers were on the wrong end of a 37-36 final score at Jamestown Community College-Cattaraugus. Jamestown-Cattaraugus, a Division II school, was also playing its first game of the_season.
The game was close the entire way as both teams struggled offensively. TC3 held a 16-14 lead at the half before the host team outscored the Panthers 23-20 in the second half to pull out the win.
TC3’s Barbara Naylor led all scorers with 14 points. Kati Dapson and Verity Kamholtz had_big nights on the boards, pulling down eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
Christine Sweitzer led the home team with 10 points.
Jamestown CC-Cattaraugus 99, TC3 67: The combination of cold shooting and sloppy ball control was too much as the Panthers dropped a season-opening decision to Division II host Jamestown Community College-Cattaraugus Wednesday.
Playing against scholarship players, TC3 was able to hang close in the first half, trailing 43-37 at the break. The second half saw the home team take advantage of TC3 mistakes to pull away. As a team, TC3 shot below five percent from three-point range while committing_30 turnovers.
Eddie Mitchell led the team with 17 points and two assists. Sean Anderson added 10 points and six rebounds while Kevin Wilbur chipped in with nine points and six boards.
Jamestown-Cattaraugus was led by Troy Marcus and his 26 points.
The TC3 men and women return to action this Saturday at the Columbia-Greene Twins Classic tournament.