November 7, 2011
Marathon dethroned by top-seeded Bobcats, 2-1
ONEONTA — The quest for a third straight Section 4 Class C soccer crown came to an end for Marathon Central boys Saturday at the fleet feet of junior midfielder Ellington Hopkins.
Hopkins scored a pair of rebound goals to lift Lansing to a 2-1 victory over the Olympians at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta.
The top-seed Bobcats (19-0) will take their number-one ranking in the New York State Class C poll into regional action against Section 3 champion Tully. The second-seeded, 10th-ranked Olympians close out their season at 17-2 — both losses by one goal to the Bobcats.
“They did a better job of possessing the ball,” Marathon coach Chip Stewart said of his team’s performance against the favored Bobcats. “We went into panic mode after we got the lead. They put a little more pressure on us. Robbie (Peri) makes a tremendous save and we have no defenders there to clear out the ball. Hopkins was right there to bang it in.
“(Lansing coach) Adam (Heck) is a good friend, though I don’t like him very much right now,” he added with a chuckle. “I’ll get over it. I wish Lansing nothing but the best. They are a classy group of kids, Both teams played hard and they beat us today.”
“Chip and I go back a ways,” Coach Heck said. “I’ve supported him the last five years. I had really hoped that they would have gotten a state title and you still wish Marathon nothing but the best. There is a lot of respect between the two teams. They always seem to be great games. It is too bad we can’t go together. that’s our goal that, one day, we will both go to states together. We’ll be ready for Tully or Cooperstown, whichever team we face next.”
Marathon did control the opening minutes of play. The Olympians put some pressure on the Bobcats and took a 1-0 lead when a chipped ball by Dan Lincoln was misplayed by Lansing goalkeeper Benji Parkes. The senior mis-timed his jump and the ball tipped off his hands and then the cross bar, dropping straight down and spinning back into the goal.
“I DIDN’T KNOW what to think really because we hadn’t been in that situation,” said Heck of falling behind for the first time this season. “We have a bulk of juniors that haven’t been in this spotlight and haven’t been under this pressure, so I was worried.
“But at the same time,” he continued. “I said to my coaches, ‘We’re going to get one. We’re going to get one. We’ve just got to keep coming, not panic.’ I just have a lot of confidence that they’re going to come through for us.”
Lansing began to build some momentum. A couple of shot were off the mark until Ethan Kutler got free for one of the few times in this game. He ripped a shot the Peri stopped, but Hopkins was right there for the rebound and popped the ball in the net to tie the game at 1-1 with 15:43 left in the half. The remainder of the half was fairly quiet.
Marathon opened the second half with some pressure, but four minutes in Hopkins’ hustle put the Bobcats in front. Hopkins got free a sent a shot on goal. Peri made the initial save and stopped the first rebound attempt. Hopkins continued to reach the ball first and connected on the third shot for the 2-1 advantage.
Anson Dann found an opening and missed a close range shot and Eric Barry drove a one-touch ball just wide of the post. Those were the best chances for the Olympians to tie the game.
“We started the second half the same way,” Stewart said. “We had a great look early. Eric (Barry) ran right through that one chance and we hit a couple right at the keeper.
“They came through when the ball was bouncing around,” he added. “We made the initial stop, don’t clear it out and they are there to pounce on it. That’s what good teams do.”
STEWART PRAISED the job Austin Fox did in marking Kutler, but he was not happy with the job done on Hopkins.
“Austin Fox did a great job, but we worked way too hard to do what he had to do to cover the Kutler kid,” Stewart said. “Ethan is a great player, but we did a good job on him. We didn’t do the secondary job on the Hopkins kid. That’s the sign of another good player. He found the gaps and spaces. He won balls in the corner and then beat us to the goal on the dribble. They had the better combination play, two or three connecting passes, while we would get one touch and banged the ball. We didn’t handle the pressure. We were on our heels too much worrying about their team speed. We did not attack the way I know we can and the way we have this season.”
With the lose, it was time to say farewell to 13 seniors who completed a great career on the soccer field.
“We lose 13 fantastic kids,” Stewart said. “That is still the hardest thing for me, saying good-bye to kids I won’t be coaching anymore,” Stewart said. “They are characters, but, besides being soccer players they are outstanding young men. They make you proud. They do the community proud. They do a lot of other things. They aren’t kids who get in trouble, they look for ways to help others. Those are the kind of kids you hate to lose. They are leaders and fun to be around. They are the kind of kids that keep you in this business of coaching. We do have a tradition of excellence and we’ll look to keep it up. Maybe we can get back here for an eighth straight time.”
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