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November 3, 2008

 

Marathon girls rule in Class C

Late Olympians outburst overtakes Sidney booters

Marathon

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Shawna Hurlbert of Marathon takes a shot on goal as Sidney defender Stephaniie Morrow (15) closes in during Saturday’s Section 4 Class C title game at SUNYCortland. Marathon rallied to take the title, 3-1.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

It was jolting blow, for sure, when Marathon Central girls suddenly found themselves behind in this Section 4 Class C soccer title test.
“You could see everyone’s head just sink,” admitted senior tri-captain Brooke Winter-Potter when Sidney scored with just 15:57 left to play in what had been a scoreless Saturday afternoon standoff at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
But from that adversity came a rather remarkable Marathon response. The resilient Olympians got two goals from sophomore Rachel Parker, sandwiched around a go-ahead tally from senior Meghan McEvoy, to pull out a 3-1 victory.
The fact that this soccer program is merely 5-years-old, that Marathon was making its first-ever Class C championship game appearance, made this collaborative comeback even more stunning.
“I wasn’t too worried. We have so much heart I knew we could come back,” said Parker after this rally gave Marathon a 16-5-1 record to take into the state tournament. The Olympians will face Section 3 champion Utica Notre Dame (13-8-1) in a Class C second round state tournament game scheduled for this coming Saturday at Chittenango High School. Game time is 1 p.m.
Marathon and Sidney (13-3-3) were scoreless at halftime. The top-seeded Warriors dominated the early moments, but the more dangerous scoring chances belonged to second seed Marathon as things progressed.
The loss of defender Katelyn Philpott to a first half knee injury didn’t help the Sidney cause. “That was a big loss on our side,” said Sidney 11th year head coach Jody Gravelin.
In the second half, it only seemed a matter of time before Marathon pressure paid off in an ice-breaking goal. Some 14 minutes into the stanza, both Shawna Hurlbert and Kelsey Peebles sent shots on goal that just went wide right, while Sidney keeper Stephanie Simonds was tested on a shot blasted off the foot of Erin Rundle. An adjustment in formation made by Coach Trish Hayes, moving another player up front in hopes of applying more pressure, seemed to be paying off for Marathon.
But Sidney was the side that would strike first.
Senior Stephanie Meno, making a run down the right wing, looped a perfectly placed shot from outside the box into the far side mesh of the Marathon goal. There was nothing keeper Brittney Krebs could do about the shot that suddenly had the Olympians in serious 1-nil trouble.
“This is the only game where you can dominate and lose,” said Coach Hayes of the fickle nature of soccer. “That was one thing that was crossing my mind, but I have a lot of faith in these kids and we got great leadership from our seniors and juniors.”
“IT MUST have struck a nerve or something because we bounced right back,” said Peebles, a senior captain for Marathon, of how her team reacted to the Meno goal.
“It felt like the Oxford game last year, and we didn’t want that again,” she added, referring to a 1-0 first round upset loss suffered by the Olympians in sectionals a year ago.
Just a little over three minutes after falling behind, Marathon tied this game up. Some nifty give-and-go work got Winter-Potter to the end line, where her crossing pass was sharply redirected by Potter into the right side of the goal.
“It felt good because I just came back from being beat, so it was redemption,” said Winter-Potter of that crucial play that regained Marathon confidence and momentum.
“I knew I just had to get there,” said Potter of running onto the crossing pass. “Shawna (Hurlbert) was behind me, but I knew I had to get there.”
A scant 26 seconds later, Marathon had the lead for keeps when a little hesitation on a ball bouncing in the Sidney box enabled McEvoy to volley home a point-blank shot. Peebles picked up an assist on that go-ahead goal.
With 6:40 left to play, Parker put an end to things when her long direct kick made it cleanly over a wall of defenders and skidded under the Sidney keeper for the final two-goal margin.
Shocked Sidney would not test goalie Krebs the rest of the way. Supported by a defense headed up by quick-footed sweeper Paige McCarthy, Krebs finished with seven saves in keeping the Warriors at bay.
“They really turned things around in the second half,” admitted opposing coach Gravelin as deserving Marathon finished with a 23-11 shot edge.
“All year long we have banked on the saying ‘You don’t have to lead when you have enough heart to come from behind.’ It’s been our phrase all year,” said Coach Hayes of her Olympians.
COMING FROM behind this time led to a post-game celebration where the Olympians skipped across the Sports Complex Field, changing the lyrics of the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing” to “Don’t Stop Losing” — one of several songs these Marathon girls use for inspiration.
Those melodies and playing a rugged regular season schedule in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference — where the Olympians were Division III regular season champions and made it to the playoff final only to lose to Lansing 2-0 — certainly helped in this successful sectional run to the top.
While Marathon was taking the Class C title, league cohort Lansing was on an adjacent field at the Stadium Complex beating top seed Chenango Forks 1-0 for the Class B title. A first half goal by Ellyn Grant-Keene settled that showdown on unbeaten squads.
“It definitely prepared us, playing teams like Lansing and Dryden,” said Marathon’s Peebles. “It’s tough competition and I’m glad it is, because it definitely gets us prepared.”

Marathon 3, Sidney 1
———
   By periods:
Marathon     0    3    —    3
Sidney         0    1    —    1
   Goals-Assists: Marathon- Rachel Parker 2-0, Brooke Winter-Potter 0-1, Meghan McEvoy 1-0, Kelsey Peebles 0-1. Sidney- Stephanie Meno 1-0
   Shots: Marathon 23, Sidney 11
   Corners: Marathon 1, Sidney 1
   Saves: Brittney Krebs (M) 7, Stephanie Simonds (S) 12