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November 20, 2009

 

Marathon’s focus stays the same

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

It’s down to two games for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C soccer crown.
For Marathon Central boys, the first step towards that quest comes Saturday morning at 11:15 a.m. as the state’s top-ranked Olympians (18-2) meet third-ranked Waterford-Halfmoon (19-2) from Section 2 in Oneonta.
The other semifinal wll find second-ranked Holland (16-4-1) from Section 6 meeting Section 8’s fourth-ranked Friends Academy (10-5-1) at the National Soccer Hall of Fame Complex at the same time.
This is the fourth trip to the semifinals in the past five years for Marathon, a team just 1-3 in the semifinal round including a trip to the ‘Final Four’ in 2002. It was the latest trip in 2007 that saw the Olympians reach the final, only to fall to Red Creek 3-1 in the title match.
Seven players remember that 2007 trip to Oneonta. Senior captains Doug Whitney (11 goals-3 assists), Josh Lincoln (12-9), John Robinson (2-1), Jared Davenport (4-3) and Brendan Morrison (5-9) were part of the group as were classmates Tyler Marsh (6-5) and David O’Shea (2-3).
“The seniors have really been quality leaders,” Marathon coach Chip Stewart said. “This is my fifth trip to the final four. It may be a new line-up, but the goal and the game philosophy are still the same. Play the game Saturday, and look to win that game first.”
In addition to the seven returning seniors mentioned above, seniors Mike Bellefleur (6-3) and Nick Barry are also starters with help off the bench from classmate Jared Elliott.
The remaining two starters are sophomore goalkeeper Evan Holl and sophomore sweeper Eric Barry, two keys to a defensive unit that has allowed just six goals this season and recorded 15 shutouts.
“I’ve said it before, but Evan Holl is a very fine goalkeeper and kind of gets overlooked,” Stewart said. “Eric Barry has really stepped up to solidify the backline. He has only started the last nine games, beginning with the second Southern Cayuga game. He clears that ball very well, he can bring the ball up the field and is good with his left or right foot. Eric’s growth allowed us to bring John out of that spot and give us a lot of different looks. John can move around to the midfield or attack and still gets back on defense well.”
Jared Davenport continues to shine as the best marking defender for the Olympians and Nick Barry offers his defensive skills to the back line.
The midfield has been another improved area in 2009.
“Josh and Tyler have been solid on the outside,” Stewart said of Lincoln and Marsh. “Brendan and David O’Shea work inside in the middle of the field. That allows Doug and Mike to work up top.”
Elliott comes off the bench as does junior Teddy Morrison (1-6), sophomore Tyler Nelson (9-1), junior Tyler Zelsnack, junior Alex McDonald, junior Erik McGowan, junior Tyler Barry and sophomore Austin Fox (6-0). In all, the Olympians have scored 70 goals this season with 16 of the 19 players recording at least one goal or assist.
“The biggest difference in our success this year is that we lacked some chemistry last year,” Stewart said. “We have that team chemistry this year. Our guys look for each other to help score goals. These guys are playing for each other.”
Marathon will head to Oneonta a little later this year than in the past.
“We are going to practice at home Friday and then head to the banquet,” Stewart explained. “We’ve been to Oneonta enough times so we done need top fight for a field to practice on.
“We’ll come home after the banquet,” he continued. “Get a good night’s sleep in our own beds and be ready to play Saturday.”
WATERFORD COMES into into the game have scored 67 goals while allowing 17. The Fordians have 10 shutouts to its credit.
“It’s been quite the fun ride this season,” said eighth-year head coach Fred Engelmann of his team. “We have played a lot of games just to get here and we are looking good for the next one. We have actually played six games in a 15-day span and have really started to jell.”
Waterford went 11-1 in the Central Hudson Valley League, which is made up of two Class C schools and four Class D schools in addition to the Fordians. After losing 11 seniors from his 2008 team that lost to Maple Hill in overtime in the playoffs, Waterford came back strong in 2009.
“This is the farthest any team I have coached as gone,” Engelmann said. “We have five starters back. The guys have really come together and they are playing well.”
Engelmann credits a lot of that to senior central midfielder Chris Hunt (8 goals-1 assist).
“Chris has been a good leader for us,” Engelmann said. “With him and the solid play up top from sophomore Fre Breen and junior Zac Lennon, we have developed a nice balanced attack.”
Breen leads the Fordians with 16 goals and 9 assists while Lennon has nine goals and nine assists.
Also starting for Waterford are senior outside midfielder Dylan Carlton (12g-5a), junior defender Joe Chiera, junior outside midfielder Joe DelGuidice (0-2), junior defender Nick forget, junior defender Jeff Ippolito, junior central midfielder David Lee (4-6), junior defender Connor Noel (1-3) and senior goalkeeper Ryan Hardy. The Fordian keeper has allowed 10 goals and sports an 83 save-percentage.
Off the bench, Waterford has gotten good support from junior midfielder Cory Charbonneau (3-6), junior midfielder Garrett Archambeault (3-0), sophomore midfielder Dylan Gardner (4-2) and senior midfielder Mitch Clow (2-1) among others.
“Our goal is simple,” Engelmann said. “We would like to play well Saturday and win. Our guys are confident right now.
“We want to play a possession-passing game,” he added. “We like to push forward with our outside backs. we need to keep the ball on the ground and move it around.”
Saturday’s semifinal winners will move on to the state Class C championship match Sunday at 12:30 p.m.