November 3, 2011
Birthday boy boosts Cincy
Warner’s OT penalty kick tops rival McGraw in semis
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cody Warner of Cincinnatus pushes the ball upfield against McGraw in Wednesday’s Class D-1 semifinal game. Warner scored the game’s only goal in overtime at Butts Field in Homer.
Cody Warner’s wish on his 17th birthday came true in a matter of seconds Tuesday night.
The senior midfielder on the third-seeded Cincinnatus Central boys’ soccer team converted a penalty kick 3:01 into the second sudden-death overtime period to give the Red Lions a hard-fought 1-0 win over rival McGraw, the second seed, in a Section 3 Class D-1 semifinal showdown at jam-packed Butts Field in Homer.
The winners, now 15-1-1 and ranked third in the state, advance to Friday’s D-1 championship game, site and time to be determined, against No. 4 Hamilton in a rematch of last season’s game for the Class D overall sectional title contest.
The Emerald Knights, who won last year’s game 1-0 and are currently ranked 16th in the state, improved to 15-3 with a 1-0 win over No. 8 Watertown IHC in Wednesday’s other D-1 semifinal.
McGraw finished the season 16-2, with both losses to Cincy — the first by a 2-1 margin at SUNY Cortland back on Oct. 8.
The Red Lions’ only setback this season came at the hands of the host Eagles, 1-0 in two overtimes, in the rematch on Oct. 19 as the rivals shared the Central Counties League crown. All told, the two teams played 273 minutes and 36 seconds of soccer over three games, with Cincy scoring three goals to McGraw’s two.
The Red Lions accounted for three of the five goals McGraw allowed this season and have surrendered just six themselves. Cincy has scored 78 goals on the season so far, while the Eagles finished with 81 goals.
The penalty kick came after Cincy senior striker Nick Constantino was knocked down by an Eagles defender just inside the box on the left side. Warner shot to the left waist-high and hit the back of the net behind McGraw senior goalie Austin Chambers, who had moved slightly to his right, for his fifth goal of the season.
“I USUALLY GO left,” Warner said just before a teammate came up and gave him a celebratory kiss on the cheek. “He juked a little to the right, I gave a couple of looks to the right and put it to the left.
“We dominated the game,” he added. “We knew we had a point to prove after they beat us. We didn’t put them away early, but took care of things at the end. We were looking for some revenge. We didn’t want to be co-champs (of the CCL). McGraw is a great team and always plays us hard. We knew this was going to be a tough game.”
“We just pounded them in overtime, but we couldn’t put one in,” said Red Lions coach Gordy Brown, whose team had a 5-1 shot advantage in the first extra session and took the only shot of the second before it was decided to finish with 21 shots to the Eagles’ eight (15-7 in regulation). “Austin Chambers is a Class A goalkeeper, that’s all there is to it. He made saves tonight that no other high school keeper could make. I hope he has success as he continues his soccer career.”
“What can be said for Austin?” Eagles coach Cory Brown said of his keeper. “He has had a real slow time this year in goal as we were not pressured a lot during the season, but time and again when it came time to make the big saves he was there for us. Not much can be said for how important he was for us in goal when we needed him.”
Chambers made 17 saves in the game to four for Cincy senior keeper Shea Feehan, who along with his defense now had 11 shutouts this season. The Eagles’ senior keeper, who combined with his defenders to whitewash 14 opponents this fall, was down but was able to recover grab a point-blank shot by Red Lions senior stopper Joe Peri on a deflection off a pass from senior forward Jason Lindley with 17 minutes left in the first half.
Chambers also rose to the occasion in the waning moments of regulation, making a sliding save from close range on a shot by Constantino with 30 seconds remaining. McGraw’s best chance came with 9:10 left in the first half as junior striker Nick Cowen, coming back from a right foot injury suffered in Friday’s 3-0 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Stockbridge Valley, controlled the deflection of a blocked shot and sent a shot just wide to the left from close range.
“CINCY HAD A LOT of the play, but even though they had more shots most were handled fairly easy by Austin,” aaid McGraw coach Brown. “We had chances ourselves but were not able to take advantage of them. The defense — David Levitskiy (junior), Justin Morgan (junior), Mark Hitt (junior) and Aaron Hitt (senior) — played hard and at times bent but did not break. They knew they had to play at their best against Cincy and I would have to say they did.
“Our midfield had to make sure they helped with the marking and worked hard up and down the field,” he added. “Cincy came at us at the beginning of the game and took it to us for awhile. As the boys started to settle down things started to even off a little. I moved Devin McGuinness (junior) from the midfield to the forward position, giving us a little more speed up front to pressure them more, with 10 or 15 minutes left in the first half and I think that’s when we started to settle down a little. Ben Hammond (junior) went into Devin’s spot at defensive middie and he did a good job. This was the first time back on the field from a knee injury with a lot of playing time. We wanted to use the outside middies to get the ball up the field and (seniors) Matt Kenyon and Jason Griffin were able to take advantage when the opportunity was there.”
Smith also praised senior center midfielder Wyatt Buerkle, sophomore forward Mike Smith and Cowen for their performances, and cited the seniors who wound up their scholastic careers — Kenyon, Griffin, Wyatt Buerkle, Mark Hitt, and Chambers.
As for the circumstances of the season-ending defeat, Smith noted: “I can’t say how proud I am of the boys, they gave it all they had and dug down deep inside to compete with a very good Cincy team. It’s too bad that the referee had to make a call on something that was not a threat on goal and give Cincy the PK. I have to feel for my boys with that call. They worked so hard this year to get where we were and to lose like that is just terrible. The referee should not be the one to determine a game. To have two teams play such a great game like that and to have it determined that way is not the way the game was meant to be played.
“MY HATS GO OFF to Cincy. They played hard and are a well-coached team. I hope all the best for them as they go on to play Hamilton. I don’t think the CCL gets enough respect as a league, but no matter who won this one we would be represented well.”
“Cory and his team, which is well-coached, are a class act,” Brown said. “I feel terrible for them. It should have been these two teams in the overall D final. The brackets were set up wrong.”
Both coaches praised the fans of both teams, and Smith said that “To have the number of fans from both schools at these games makes it that much more exciting. There’s no way there are any games in Class D in the state that can have as many fan as we have had in our three games this year.”
The winner of Friday’s D-1 title game will meet the D-2 champion, either Remsen or Old Forge, early next week for the overall Section 3 Class D crown and advancement to the state tournament.
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