November 9, 2009
Four champs crowned
Eagles keep on soaring
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
McGraw’s Kristen Guy (6) hits a header over Remsen’s Brittany Waterbury (33) in the first half of Saturday’s Section 3 Class D title game at SUNY Cortland. McGraw won, 3-0.
A pair of big plays back-to-back midway through the first half pretty much determined the issue Saturday night as the McGraw Central girls’ soccer team beat Remsen 3-0 to win the Section 3 Class D championship on the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex’s White Field.
The top-seeded Eagles, the number-one ranked Class D team in the state, already had a 1-0 lead, thanks to a high shot to the far corner from the right side by senior midfielder Casey Millard a dozen minutes in. That came off an assist from classmate and striker Nicole Law.
Just before the midway point of the first half, the No. 2 Rams’ Erin O’Connor, a freshman forward, took a pass in deep and flicked a header from close range that McGraw junior goalkeeper Hayley MacLean was able to deflect out of danger.
Less than a minute later, Eagles sophomore forward Kaitelyn Leonard made it 2-0, also from close range in front, off a right-wing feed from senior forward Kierra Mack that Remsen goalkeeper Brittany Shew bobbled.
While plenty of time remained, there was the sense that the Eagles, who had come up short in the D title game the past two seasons, had firm control of this one. When Leonard scored again (giving her 18 goals on the season) with 2:35 left until halftime, from the left side off a cross from Millard, the final result was all but in the books.
“That was the turning point,” McGraw coach Dave Law, his team now 19-0 this season, said of the key stop and subsequent score.
“Our defense is very, very strong, and how good Hayley is has been talked a bout all season long,” he added, goalie MacLean having given up just two goals all season while McGraw has scored 108 times. “The Central Counties League may be weaker than some of the others in the section, but she’s come up big in sectionals for us this fall and had eight saves (a season high) tonight. The girls have confidence in her back there, and no one has to worry about Hayley.
“It was good to see the underclassmen step up; Casey has been come alive for us lately, and of course Kaitelyn.”
“We’re a young team, and came in hoping to get an early goal,” said Rams coach Jim Wilder, whose team, with just three seniors on its 20-player roster, finished the season with a 15-3 record. “If we had scored a goal on that header, who knows what happens after that? We were on our heels the first half; the girls were a little intimidated just being here and with everything that was going on. In the second half we were able to play more of our style.
“McGraw is a tremendous team, well-coached, and do a good job of taking the ball wide outside and touching it to the middle — stuff we needed to do.”
MacLEAN HAD A couple of other big saves in the game, grabbing a crossing pass with Remsen sophomore forward Jessica Taylor inches from her 12 minutes before intermission and surviving a collision with a Rams player to help clear away a high crossing pass with 12 minutes left in the game, senior sweeper Jenna Tobias also coming up big on the play.
Obviously very excited with the sectional title, MacLean said she couldn’t remember any of the individual saves she made in the contest. “All I know is that before the game everyone was excited, and it pumped me up to play well,” she said. That’s the most work I’ve done in a game this season. We all did a good job; the offense and defense both played well.”
“The balls just came across and I put them in,” Leonard said matter-of-factly about her two goals. “We worked hard, and were happy that we scored first. In in my second full season, and third in sectionals, and we were hoping to win one (the last Eagles title had been in 2006). It feels great; before this year, this game was the one we’d lose. Now we want states.”
“Another key point for us was the job we did on number 27, O’Connor, a key player for them,” Dave Law said. “Elizabeth Niver (senior stopper) stepped up and did a great job of holding her outside in the second half, after Nicole Purcell (freshman right outside full back) had done well against her in the first half. They never were able to put her inside.“Their goalkeepers did a good job, too; We should have been up by another couple of goals. But I thought the game would be closer; the girls coming over were talking about what would happen if Remsen scored first. We told them to just keep cool and stay strong if that happened. The girls did a great job.”
Each team ended up taking 10 shots in the game. While MacLean stopped those eight shots, starter Shew made two saves and junior Julee Will stopped one shot over the final 14 minutes.
McGraw will meet Section 4 champion Schenevus Saturday in state quarterfinal play at a site to be determined. A 2-0 winner over Charlotte Valley in Section 4’s D title tilt, Schenevus is ranked ninth in the state in the latest D poll.
“I watched their game this morning, and they’re a very good team,” Dave Law said of the Dragons, now 16-1. “It will be very much like playing ourselves.”
Three Eagles Honored
The All-Section 3 Class D team was announced before the contest, and includes three McGraw players. Nicole Law and senior midfielder Kristen Guy both were honored for the third year in a row, while senior forward Kierra Mack also made the squad. O’Connor and senior back Sandy Roberts of Remsen were named to the team, as were Faith Heritage senior backs Jalisa Thayer and Emmeline Stroman and senior forward Liz Roder; Lyme junior goalie Alexandra Weston and senior back Abbygail Schwind; Copenhagen juniors Morgan Kiernan (midfielder) and Sarah Hovendon (forward); Poland senior midfielder Ashley Huckabone and Hamilton junior forward Emily Truett.
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