November 17, 2007


Olympians return to finals

Defending champs top Port Jefferson

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer     
Kendra Root of Marathon steals the ball from Port Jefferson’s Katrina Holvik in Friday’s state semifinal game. Marathon won 4-1 at Cicero North Syracuse.

Staff Writer

CICERO — Neither snow squalls nor a 50-minute delay in the start of the game could stop Marathon Central girls from reaching the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Field Hockey Championship contest for the eighth time.
The defending Class C state champions got two first-half goals from sophomore Marta Malmberg to build a 2-0 cushion and cruised to a 4-1 semifinal round triumph over Section 1’s Port Jefferson at a chilly Michael J. Bragman Stadium behind Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
The Olympians (21-1) will meet Warrensburg from Section 2 in this morning’s 10 a.m. title match. The Burgomaster (21-2) defeated Section 9 champion Pine Plains (19-2-1) in the other semifinal match by a 2-1 count.
“This is the first time this team is going to the state final,” said Marathon coach Karen Funk about her eighth shot at a state title. “There are girls on this team that have been to the state final before, but this is the first time for this team. That is how I approach it every time. You always have to treat it as the team’s actual trip.”
For a while Friday it looked like there would be no games because of heavy lake-effect snow covering the field. The snow stopped, crews of state officials and C-NS personnel went to work and cleared the field. At 10:20 a.m., 50 minutes behind the scheduled start time, the Olympians and Royals began playing under another light snow shower.
“It was tough getting to the field early and having to sit around for a long time,” said Marathon sophomore McKenna Light of the delay. “I was nervous and anxious to play at the same time.”
“It was hard just sitting around,” Malmberg added. “It was a small room and we really wanted to get there, get stretched out and begin playing.”
Not much happened in the first 10 minutes until Port Jefferson got the first penalty corner, but could not capitalize.
“It was tough adjusting to playing in the snow,” said Funk. “The ball speed was much slower and passing the ball was hard.”
“We had good footing and were not slipping,” Malmberg added. “It was the ball speed that we had to adjust to until the field cleared up. Because of the conditions, it was important for us to score the first goal.”
Over the next 10 minutes, Marathon got two good shots on goal, but defender Nancy Gallagher made two nice saves, playing behind goalkeeper Dorthea Damaskos, to keep the Olympians off the board. Marathon broke through with 9:51 left in the half off a penalty corner. After the insert, Kelley Braman slid the ball to Malmberg, who made a nice move and fired the ball into the cage for the 1-0 advantage.
Two more shots were stopped by Damaskos (seven saves) and another went just wide of the left post.
With 2:45 left in the half, Marathon was pressuring off another penalty corner. A rising shot was knocked down in the box by Royals’ defender. It was off the chest and shoulder area and the officials awarded a penalty stroke. Malmberg took the stroke and deleivered the ball into the upper right corner of the cage. Her 14th goal of the season put the Olympians on top 2-0.
Marathon held an 8-0 shot advantage in the first half and a 4-1 edge in penalty corners.
The Olympians came out hustling on the clear field in the second half. With 24:38 left in the match, Marathon got a three-on-one breakaway against Damaskos. With one player to her right and Light to her left, Hannah Griep headed right at the goalkeeper. When Damaskos committed, Griep dumped the ball to Light, who flicked the ball home for her ninth goal of the season and a 3-0 cushion.
“Once we get going on the clear field, we really got our passing game working better ,” Light explained. “Hannah made a nice pass and I was able to finish the run.”
Marathon continued to control most of the play and Braman added the fourth goal of the game with 6:20 remaining. Alexis Root notched the assist and the countdown to advancing wound down.
Port Jefferson (16-4) avoided the shutout with 2:14 on the clock when Julianne Gerbino scored the unassisted goal. It was only one of three shots the Royals had. Roni Allen made one save for Marathon and one shot was blocked in front.
“We did not play our best game today,” said Royals coach Debra Edgar-Brown. “The girls were nervous and the delay in starting did not help. We had trouble finding room to move.
“Marathon is an excellent team and their reputation intimidated us some,” Edgar-Brown added. “We could not contain number 14 (Malmberg), but I must say that I was proud of our girls effort.”
Warrensburg 2, Pine Plains 1: Brittany Lawrence scored the winning goal with two minutes left in the match to cap a two-goal second-half spurt by Warrensburg. Whitney Galusha tied the match at 1-1 six minutes into second half play.
Melissa Lewis gave Pine Plains a 1-0 lead with three minutes left in the first half.
IN CLASS B, Rye will meet Garden City for the title at 12 noon today. Rye defeated Camden 3-1 while Garden City shut out Maine-Endwell 2-0.
IN CLASS A, late day snows forced both games to be moved to Saturday. The Williamsville North-Ward Melville game was suspended with 21:13 remaining in the first half. That game will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Lakeland-Saratoga game was also postponed and rescheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday. The Class A championship game will be played Sunday.