November 18 , 2006
Marathon rolls into state final
Upends Friends Academy 5-1 in semis
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Marathon’s Tessa Knapp is on her way to scoring the first of her two goals during the first half of Friday’s Class C state field hockey win over Friends Academy. Marathon was a 5-1 winner at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse.
SYRACUSE — You can call today’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C Field Hockey Final many different things, but clash of the titans would fit the best.
Behind two goals by Tessa Knapp, Marathon Central girls are back in the title game after a 5-1 victory over Friends Academy Friday night at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse.
Waiting for the six-time state champion Olympians (23-1) from Section 4 is the two-time defending champion East Rochester (19-0-1) from Section 5, a 4-1 winner over Hoosick Falls in the final match of the evening.
The Bombers are riding a 63-game unbeaten streak (59-0-4), not losing since their 2-1 semifinal loss to Marathon in the 2003 state tournament. Marathon went on to a third straight state title for the second time in their history.
East Rochester is looking for their third straight title now. That means six of the seven state titles this decade will have been won by one of these two teams. Afton, also from Section 4, was the 2000 state champion.
“Oh, man, this is such an awesome feeling,” said Knapp, a sophomore forward. “I would not have been able to do what I did without my teammates. My other forwards, midfielders and backs really did it all. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Meghan Dean gave Marathon a 1-0 lead 4:37 into the match off a penalty corner. Knapp sent the insert pass into Dean, who pushed the ball to the right to Marta Malmberg. As the defense began to shift, Malmberg returned the ball to Dean, who fired a 10-yard shot home inside the right post. It was the 30th goal this season for the senior midfielder.
“It is such an unbelievable feeling to be playing for another state title,” said Dean. “I am so glad my teammates are getting the chance to experience this feeling. It is something that a lot of high school players don’t get_to enjoy.”
The Olympians threatened to blow the game open when Knapp scored her first goal off a centering pass from Dean with 11:10 left in the first half. The momentum was clearly with Marathon at this point.
Friends Academy (14-4-1) could have folded at that point, but the Section 8 champions responded with a goal just 67 seconds later off a penalty corner of their own. Alexandra DeFrancesch inserted the ball to Caitlin Moore, who pushed the ball to her right. Katie Dissinger came to the ball a fired a shot on goal that deflected off a Marathon stick and sailed into the cage to cut the deficit in half.
THE LADY QUAKERS got a couple of more good runs in the first half off transition plays, but it was Marathon who would score again with 4:46 left in the first half.
Knapp again triggered the insert pass on a penalty corner. This time, Dean stopped the ball and found Hannah Griep opened near the right side of the cage. Dean fired the ball and Griep redirected it inside the post for the 3-1 advantage. It was goal number 21 for the junior forward.
“We had worked on penalty corners all week, so getting those two early goals on penalty corners really helped our confidence,” said Marathon coach Karen Funk. “Defensively, we did everything that we had practiced as well. The one goal that Friends did score actually did deflected off one of our sticks. We did the things we had to do. We will enjoy this win for about one hour and then we began to think about tomorrow.”
Again, this was a cue for Friends to lie down and give up. Fortunately, they were not listening as the Lady Quakers came out flying in the second half and dominated for nearly 15 minutes to open the second half. It would be Marathon goalkeeper Roni Allen who kept her team in front by two goals during this flurry. Allen (five saves) stopped a liner by Elizabeth Drumm off a penalty corner insert in the third minute of the second half and she remained ready as the ball hovered in the circle much of the time.
“They (Friends) did get a lot of shots,” said Allen. “Some shots were high, but I was on them. My defense really helped me out and I have to congratulate them for this win. It is great to be playing on the field where I was a ball girl for some of the previous titles. It was nice to have Jolene Phillips here. She was the goalkeeper in those games and she congratulated me. That meant a lot.”
“I like the games where I do have some action,” she added. “Otherwise, I just stand there. In those games when I am not kept busy, I get staring at the clouds or talking a lot to Sammy Parker, our sweeper.”
SHANON PASCHOW drove one scoring attempt wide of the left post with 22:20 left and Dissinger shot wide right on another penalty corner with 21:45 to go. Parker cleared the next threat, but the ball was again retrieved quickly by the Lady Quakers, who fired wide left again.
Coach Funk had seen enough and called timeout with 20:36 left in the match.
“I told the girls that they could not play the rest of the game defensively,” said Funk. “Don’t let them push you back into the circle and sit on the lead this way. Try to keep the play in the midfield and put some pressure on when you can.”
Her girls listened well and began forcing the issue. With Friends trying to get everyone across the midfield line, Marathon was able to capitalize with some long hits for fast-break opportunities. The long runs also took the legs away from the Lady Quakers, who appeared to tire in the final 10 minutes.
With 5:19 left, Knapp got her second goal of the night and 16th of the season. Dean started the two-on-one break with a long pass from midfield. Malmberg got to the ball first and directed to her left to Knapp. After a couple of steps, Knapp fired the finisher past goalkeeper Caroline Johansen (two saves).
The Olympians got one more goal with 2:43 left on a three-on-zero break. After her 26th assist of the season, Malmberg hauled in another long pass and flicked it into the center of the cage for the 5-1 final margin. It was the ninth goal for the freshman in 2006.
For Dean, Saturday is her chance to win a third state title. Only four other Olympians have that distinction.
“For everyone else, it will be just their first title,” said Dean. “That is how I am going to play the game tomorrow. I am going to play like it is my first title because I want to bring as much as I can to this team and help us all win.”
Despite the final score, the game was close until the two late Marathon tallies. Friends coach Georgette Trott was pleased with her team’s overall effort.
“I am very proud of my girls,” said Trott. “They really played a phenomenal game. The girls came in with a never-say-die attitude. We made three early mistakes and those mistakes led to goals in the first half. We talked about it and made adjustments. We played much better the rest of the way.”
East Rochester 4, Hoosick Falls 1: Senior forward Samantha Sortino scored two goals to lift East Rochester to a 4-1 victory over Section 2 Hoosick Falls. Senior captain, and forward, Krista Arschambeau added a goal and two assists in the win and senior midfielder Erin Growney, another captain, added one goal and one assist.
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McGraw gets shut down by Arkport in semifinals
Some disassembled déjà vu took place Friday night when the McGraw Central and Arkport girls’ soccer teams met in the New York State Class D semifinals at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex’s White (auxiliary) field.
The Section 5 champion Lady Jays beat the Eagles 2-0 to advance to today’s 4:30 p.m. championship game against Section 7’s Chazy, a 3-0 winner over S.S. Seward (19-2-1) from Section 9 in a simultaneous game on the Stadium Complex’s Red (main) field.
Arkport thus made it past the state semifinals for the first time in four tries, including the last two years in a row, and improved to 24-0.
For Section 3 champion McGraw, meanwhile, this semi was final — the season-ending defeat in contrast to the Eagles’ 4-1 win over Section 2’s New Lebanon two years ago en route to the state D crown. McGraw was the only Section 3 team to make it as far as the state semis this season.
“The girls that were here in 2004 will, in a day or two, realize what they’ve done in a three-year span, winning a state championship and making the state semifinals,” said McGraw coach John Rutan, whose team finished at 19-1-2. “I’m very, very happy with the girls. Tonight was the hardest they’ve played all year long, against the best team we’ve seen this season. Arkport was a little quicker and their first touches were better. We needed to make a few quicker passes.”
Asked how it felt to finally make it past the semifinals, Melody Harwood, now in her 22nd season as Arkport’s head coach, laughed and said: “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. We’re just happy to be here. Getting the first goal of the game was big, and when you add the second one it changes things for both teams.”
THAT FIRST GOAL came with 15:53 left in the first half, as Lady Jays senior midfielder Jenna Wellington went up in a crowd for a corner kick from the left side by classmate and forward Megan Gee. Wellington got her head on the ball, which deflected off the right post, crossed over and hit the left and trickled in past Eagles keeper Chelsea Hayes.
“Megan took a great corner into the middle and I hit it with the side of my head,” Wellington said in describing her fifth goal of the season. “The second goal was the one that meant a lot to us. Scoring the first one means nothing, because it’s easy to come back when you’re only down by one.”
A throw-in play deep on the right side led to what proved to be the final goal of the game just 4:42 later, sophomore midfielder Karley Schultheis corralling the ball in the box off a pass from junior forward Breanne Smith after it had gotten away from Hayes and scoring from point-blank range.
“Breanne was actually on top of their goalie after falling (during a scramble) and I just kicked it in,” said Schultheis, who now has 17 goals on the season. “We knew that we had to stay with it and play like it was still 0-0, though, because they’ve come back before.”
McGraw, which made it to Friday’s game by rallying to beat Section 4’s Milford 2-1 in overtime in a regional game last Saturday, couldn’t pull it off this time. Arkport’s defense came up big when it needed to and turned aside most McGraw thrusts before they had a chance to become dangerous.
FOR THE GAME, the winners had a 10-4 shot advantage — McGraw getting off just one shot in the second half. Lady Jays junior goalie Kristen Guenther needed to make only two saves (to seven for Hayes) for her 17th shutout of the season.
Arkport has now scored 38 goals and allowed eight this season, while the Eagles, who hadn’t been shut out prior to Friday, wound up having outscored their opponents 69-10 on the season.
“The defense did an awesome job; they always do,” Guenther said with the same smile that seemed to have spread through the entire Arkport squad, “especially (eighth-grader) Jordan Harwood and (ninth-grader) Belle Valentine.”
McGraw had a 5-4 edge in corner kicks, with freshman midfielder Nicole Law taking all five and giving the Eagles a couple of good chances, most notably on a perfectly-arced delivery from the right side that senor midfielder-forward Jen Rutan kicked just over the crossbar 13 minutes into the first half. Four and a half minutes before that, Law had come in on the right side and delivered the ball to freshman forward Emily Williams, whose shot inside the box was deflected away by an Arkport defender.
“I told the girls at halftime that they had to be more aggressive,” John Rutan said. “Arkport was more aggressive than us in the first half, and we also needed to get the ball switched quicker. They have a good sweeper in (senior Laura) Ellis, and she was able to overplay as soon as the ball came.
“With about 18 minutes left we moved Emily back, brought (senior back) Sarah Bilodeau up and moved Jen (McGraw’s leading scored this season with 19 goals and 14 assists) from forward to midfield. I thought that Nicole played well, and (junior right midfielder) Tory Finton played hard to the ball. She seemed to be alive tonight. To me, this was a 1-0 game, one goal on a corner kick and the other on a bobble.”
The best second-half chance came with 10 minutes left, when a high-bouncing ball slipped from Hayes’ hands, hit the left post and caromed back out before being shot wide left by the Lady Jays out of a point-blank scramble.
McGraw lost sophomore midfielder Kailee Williams, who was just returning from a stress fracture of the lower left leg after having been out since early October, in the first half. She went down with what Coach Rutan said appeared to be a right knee injury with 13:25 left. She was carted off and didn’t return to action.
HARWOOD NOTED she couldn’t remember the last time this season that Gee, who came in with an impressive 58 goals and 26 assists this season, had been held scoreless. “But our young girls came through,” she said.
Now her Lady Jays will face top-ranked Chazy (21-0), the team they’ve been chasing in the state poll most of the season.
“When the rankings came out Oct. 26 and we were second, I used that as an inspiration,” Harwood said. The Lady Jays, however, were still living in the happiness of the immediate triumph.
“We’re really excited to have won,” Wellington said. “Now we’ll focus on our final game, and hope that we can finish 25-0.”
“We wanted to win the Central Counties League championship,” said John Rutan, whose team did that for the third year in a row with an 11-0-1 league record. “The girls were very upset with their early dismissal last season (as the top seed, in a first-round shootout at the hands of No. 16 Hamilton), and with the way they were playing said they wanted to make it back to sectional finals. They did that, and got here, to the state semis.
“This was a very tight-knight team, a lot of fun to coach. I’m proud of them, and they’ve been a lot of fun to be with.”
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