November 22, 2010
Friends Academy trips Marathon in final, again
MIDDLETOWN— It was simply not meant to be for Marathon Central boys in Sunday’s New York State Class C Championship soccer match.
A defensive miscue in the seventh minute led to a 2-on-1 scoring opportunity for No. 2 state-ranked Friends Academy, and Colin Heffron cashed in to give the Quakers a quick 1-0 lead.
From that point on, the defending state champions used their speed and quickness on Middletown High School’s Faller Field turf to post a 3-0 triumph over the third-ranked Olympians and give veteran coach Marshall Lindner his second consecutive state crown.
It was Heffron’s goal that beat Marathon 1-0 a year ago in Oneonta for the state title, and his goal this time around helped the Quakers conclude a 15-1-3 season. The Olympians, Section 4 and Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School champions, close out the season at 16-4-1.
Marathon advanced to the championship match with a 2-1 victory over New York State’s top-ranked team, Section 5 champion East Rochester (19-1-2), on Saturday. Friends Academy pounded Section 10 champion and fourth-ranked Madrid-Waddington (14-2-3) by a 5-2 count in the other semifinal that same day.
“When you have so many players back, it makes it a little easier,” said Lindner, who capped his 39th year (28 year at Friends) as head coach. “For a small school to have three stars like Colin, Chris Campbell and Matt Slotnick, it is the perfect storm. That’s how you build a state champion. Then, you get guys who step up. It’s a real thrill.
“Marathon is a real good team,” he continued. “They are outstanding. I told my guys we had to play our best game of the season to win and our guys did that.”
“This field was perfect for them” Marathon coach Chip Stewart said. “They have great speed and their footwork is very good. I knew they would be tough to handle with Campbell, Slotnick and Heffron back.
“I am so proud of what these guys did this year,” he added.”We worked hard to get here. We made some sacrifices and we got great leadership from Teddy (Morrison), Evan (Holl) and Tyler (Marsh).”
IT WAS SLOTNICK who capitalized on that early mistake and took the ball down the left flank. At the last second, he centered the ball to Heffron who settled the ball to poke it into the open net with 33:32 left in the first half.
Friends continued to attack much of the first half. The Quakers took a total of 10 shots in the first 40 minutes and earned five corner kicks. Marathon goalkeeper Evan Holl came up with four saves in the first half and a couple of other scoring chances went just wide of the posts.
The Quakers made it 2-0 with 8:52 left in the half. The play started with a corner kick by Campbell, who was named the Friends’ MVP of the match. The ball was nearly cleared by the Olympians, but A.J. Muran got to the ball and placed a perfect shot between Holl and the left post for the two-goal cushion.
The best scoring chance by Marathon was a shot by Alex McDonald on the back end of a give-and-go, but Friends keeper Eli Rousso (3 saves) made the stop.
The second half saw fewer scoring chances for the Quakers, but as Slotnick tried to dribble along the end line, he was fouled in the box and a penalty kick was awarded to Friends with 24:01 left in the match. Campbell converted the penalty kick for the final 3-0 cushion.
With 21 minutes remaining, Robbie Peri replaced Holl (7 saves) in goal for the Olympians as Holl moved into the field. With 10 minutes to go, Stewart began emptying his bench. Peri made one save.
At the awards ceremony, Tyler Marsh received the MVP award for the Marathon team and the Olympians were also given the Sportsmanship Award as voted on by the on-field officials who worked the games over the two days.
“They were the better team today,” Marsh said of Friends Academy. “The big turf field played right into their hands. You certainly cannot take anything away from them.”
Marathon 2, East Rochester 1: It was East Rochester who took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute of Saturday’s semifinal match when David Altman headed a direct kick from Jake Zito into the corner of the goal.
It was the only shot of four that the Bombers got in the entire match. Holl made two saves in the winning effort.
Marathon tied the game with 4:17 left in the first half, Marsh started the play with a nice centering pass to Eric Barry. The junior dribbled by one defender, chipped the ball over the foot of another Bomber defender and rifled a shot from the penalty-kick stripe inside the left post for the equalizer.
With 32:42 left in the match, Barry was on the receiving end again and notched his second goal of the game. Teddy Morrison floated a direct kick from just inside the midfield line towards the goal and Barry headed it into the goal. It proved to be the game-winner. Ironically, Barry just missed another header later in the match.
Marathon dominated this match, especially in the second half with a 15-4 shot advantage and a solid defensive effort.
“Eric is an outstanding young man,” Stewart said. “He really stepped up for us Saturday and I will expect him to be a leader next year.”
The win came at a cost when senior Erik McGowan injured his knee when he slipped and landed awkwardly late in the match. The injury kept him from playing in the championship match. It was the second year in a row that McGowan missed the title match.
“IT HURT SO MUCH not to be out there,” McGowan said after Sunday’s match. “I was crying during warm-ups when I knew I was not going to be able to play. There was a shot of pain through my knee every time I kicked the ball. I knew I would hurt my team more by trying to play and not being able to do very much. It was a great experience to reach the finals two years in a row, I just wasn’t able to play either time.”
“Erik played a great game yesterday,” Stewart said. “I know he wishes he was out there today as well, but that’s the one problem with playing back to back days. With a day to rest, maybe he could have play, but he did so much for us this year and helped us get to this point. That’s what he needs to remember.”
Despite the year-end loss, the Olympians had a great overall season and went so far because of the growth as a team by every player involved in the program.
“We would have laughed at the beginning of the year if you told us we’d be in the state finals.” senior captain Teddy Morrison said. “We did come a long way this year. It really was exciting.
“We played real well as a unit defensively,” he added. “Tyler Hollerer real came through as a freshman. He was awesome and that helped us out so much.”
As for Marsh, he thought another player deserved the MVP honor from his team.
“I was surprised to get the award,” Marsh said. “I though Austin Fox deserved it. He really did a good job overall on their star player (Slotnick). He’s been our lockdown defender all season and he did a great job again today.”
“It has been a fun experience,” he continued. “Not many teams get here once and we got here two years in a row. I felt fortunate because I was here with the 2007 team as well. Three trips to states is a great experience.”
“We’ll miss some kids next year and you know what happens when I talked about my seniors so I’m not going there,” Stewart chuckled about his tendency to tear up when recalling their careers. “We have a great group of underclassmen so we will see what happens when next season gets here.”
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