November 18, 2010
Final Four, again
Olympians face East Rochester in Class C state semifinals
MARATHON – It will be new encounter between two schools with a history in another sport.
Marathon Central School and East Rochester High School are no strangers to each other in New York State Final Four action when it comes to field hockey. When the Olympians (15-3-1) and Bombers (19-0-2) meet Saturday at 11 a.m. in NYS Class C semifinal round action at Middletown Central School, it will be the first meeting between Section 4 and Section 5 champions.
The winner of this game will meet either Section 10 champion Madrid-Waddington (14-1-3) or have a rematch of the 2009 state final with Section 8 champion Friends Academy (13-1-3) Sunday for the state title at 12:30 p.m. Friends won that previous encounter 1-0.
“This is just the second trip ever to the final four for our team,” East Rochester coach Vince Correa said. “The school and the guys are pumped up because this doesn’t happen too often.
“We’re not really concerned with the whole rivalry thing with Marathon,” he added. “It’s more of a thing to the parents, especially on the field hockey side. We’re just happy to be here and we’ll see what happens in the game. I think this really will be a good game.”
The only other time the Bombers made the final four was in 2004.
“Every team is different and each year is different,” Marathon coach Chip Stewart said in regards to his team, which has seven Regional titles in hand after last Saturday’s 1-0 triumph over Manlius-Pebble Hill. “It’s nice to have the opportunity again.
“As coaches, we have been there before,” he added. “We knew to maintain our composure during the match. We can’t let the kids get too low or too high. We need to keep them focused on what is in front of them on the field.”
Stewart believes East Rochester is like his Marathon team in many ways.
“They are fast and they can play physical,” Stewart stated. “I think they would be a little more comfortable on turf, but that’s not the case for this game.
We won’t change our approach much,” he added. “We will continue to play good defense. We’ll be patient on offense and take what we can when it’s presented to us.”
The first 20-30 minutes will be crucial as both teams will go though the feeling out process and then begin to make adjustments for the remainder of the first half and for the second half.
“It really will be a chess match for much of the first half,” Stewart predicted. “We need to see what they are doing and they will want to do the same with us.”
We like to play possession soccer,” Correa said. “We like the quick, crisp passes to each other and keep the ball on the ground.
“We will play the first 20 minutes Saturday checking out Marathon,” he added. “We adapt after that and play our best to take control of the game and, hopefully, come out on top.”
Looking at the East Rochester personnel, the Bombers have three players with 11 or more goals in a balanced offensive attack. Senior midfielder Jake Zito leads the team with 12 goals and 22 assists. Zito is a four-year varsity player having been on the team since his freshman year. Senior midfielder David Altman has netted 12 goals with six assists with younger brother, junior striker Jake Altman, having scored 11 goals and dishing out four assists.
“It is good to have balanced scoring,” Correa said. “These guys have really come together, as have all the guys on the team.
“Jake has played four years and that is good experience,” Correa said. “David was called up to varsity during his freshman season and his younger brother is a very hard worker.”
Senior striker Tarik Osmancevic also plays up top. Osmancevic has six goals a six assists for the Bombers.
“Tarik has scored a lot of goals,” Correa said. “He sets up our plays because he can read the field very well.”
In all, East Rochester has scored 69 goals in 2010 while the Bombers have allowed just eight goals.
Defensively, the Section 5 champions have a big back line. Senior goalkeeper Justin Dezio stand nearly 6-foot-3 and has allowed just five goals in 1,630 minutes, that all but 55 of the minutes the Bombers have played this season. He has made 117 saves with a 0.276 goals-against average.
In front of Dezio are senior sweeper Joe Raskopf and senior stopper Cosimo Sicker, a pair of 6-3 obstacles in the opposition’s way to the goal.
“It’s very reassuring to have those guys back there,” Correa said. “ Joe and Cosimo work together very well back there.
“Justin’s best sport is basketball, but he really does like soccer too,” he added. “He is very athletic, give 100 percent on the field and communicates well with his teammates. He’s a big kid and he keeps us in games.”
Marathon is led by senior striker Tyler Marsh, who is not close to 6-3. Marsh has netted team highs in goals (19) and assists (14). junior striker/midfielder Anson Dann has added 10 goals and four assists to the Olympians attack with freshman midfielder Cody Morrison adding four goals and 10 assists, Morrison’s midfield mate, juniors Eric Barry and Tyler Nelson, have each added six goals and two assists. Senior Erik McGowan (5 goals-1 assist) rounds out the outside midfielder corps for the Olympians.
“We do need to get some more support up front for Smirk (Marsh),” Stewart said. “He was on his own a lot. We have the guys who can step up and different guys have each game this year. We need that at this level of play.”
Defensively, junior goalkeeper Evan Holl lowered his goals-against average to 0.658 after the Manlius-Pebble Hill win. It was his 11th shutout of the season. Holl has made just 51 saves as his defensive front of senior sweeper Teddy Morrison, junior stopper Austin Fox have been his stalwarts. Freshman Tyler Hollerer and junior Justin Zelsnack have lend their defensive support as well.
Those have been the starters throughout this playoff run, but Stewart also has used his bench well to spell the starters. Among those used are senior David Young, junior Tyler Hall, senior Alex McDonald and junior Nick Marsh.
“We have 26 guys who believe in our system,” Stewart said. “Some of those guys know that they won’t be playing as much at this time in the season and they have accepted that. I can’t say enough about what each guy brings to this team whether it is in the game or in practice. They all are important. This is a great group of guys.”
For Marathon, this is the second trip to the final four in as many years and every appearance, including championship matches, have been at Oneonta. This is the first trip to Middletown for the final four. With the Olympians still looking for that first state title, could the change of venue be helpful?
“We’re looking forward to playing at a new place,” Marsh said. “Hopefully a new place would give us a different outcome, that being a state championship.”
“You never know,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, it will help. Strange things can happen. We’ll go play the games and see what happens. I do know I’m tired of being the bridesmaid.”
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