BACK TO BACK.. TWICE.. TOO MUCH FOR OLD FORGE-POLAND CLASS D SOCCER CHAMPS
Poland’s # 20 Mark Shelhamer looks for room to roam as # 39 Kristan Rund Tor defends for Old Forge.
Photos: Kevin Montano-MHTS
Two… two goal outbursts…one in the first half and one in the second helped propel New York State’s second ranked Class D Boys Soccer team, from Poland High School, to a Class D overall championship.
The first two goal blitz came with just about 16 minutes gone in the opening half of what had been a defense struggle between two teams who know each other well.
Senior sharpshooter Mark Shelhamer, a forward, rifled one past Old Forge goalie, Colin Criss, who entered play with a stellar .833 save percentage, to put the Tornadoes up 1-0, a lead the hungry bunch from Coldbrook would never surrender.
The game winning goal, scored by Shelhamer, was his 18th of the season.
Shelhamer would find the net once more before this one was done.
The first tally of the match for Poland (17-0-3) came off a corner kick and great feed that allowed Shelhamer to hammer the ball home, with an awesome header, as he found the corner of the net on the short side.
Before Poland fans could stand up and cheer and before Old Forge (14-2-3) (Town of Webb) fans could let out a gasp in disbelief, Poland struck again.
Eighteen short seconds later, Shelhamer put a permanent stamp on this one, as he scored again, beating Criss to make it 2-0 Poland.
From this point on the visitors from the north country settled down and looked like the team who had won fourteen games for coach John Ehrensbeck.
In fact, Old Forge had been one of the only teams to give Poland a hard time having battled to a, 1-1, draw back on September 20th in a home game.
Old Forge had forged its way to the final matchup by dispatching Lyme 2-1 on October 30th to claim the D2 title.
Being down two goals, with time running out in the opening half, Old Forge dug deep and started to find a rhythm, as they started to dominate play and get some quality scoring chances.
The Eskimos, a very fitting team name on a 35 degree night in Sauquoit, had a chance to light the lamp with just under four minutes left until intermission.
Austin Down, the Eskimos leading scorer, broke free and found himself in close with a chance to let one loose.
His low liner was stopped by Poland netminder Mitch Jones, who was perfect on the night, turning away all five shots he faced.
The big save seemed to take the air out of the Eskimos balloon as the first half ended with Poland leading 2-0 and just forty minutes away from a Class D overall crown.
It was all about the defense in the early part of half number two as Poland’s physical front line helped keep the desperate Eskimos at bay.
Let’s not forget the great defensive core that helps patrol the net in front of Mitch Jones.
Thanks to their great play Jones had time to fill out college applications while he waited to be tested by the team in maroon and white.
The game clinching, two goal, blitz came with just under 15 minutes to go, as Ross Agen found the range to make it 3-0 Poland. The goal by Agen was his eighth of the season.
Once again another goal came before the “fat lady” could get ready to sing. This time Dan Borner scored 28 seconds after Agen to put this one out of reach at 4-0.
The Tornadoes rode out the rest of the storm on the strength of their stifling defense to seal the deal and celebrate a Class D Overall Championship.
The win sets up a Regional round appearance against Section IV champion Marathon on Saturday at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta.
An appearance coach Greg Haver and his team loyal fan base are looking forward to.
MHTS Game Notes:
Tonight’s game in Sauquoit was the third meeting this season between the two soccer rivals. The teams played to a 1-1 tie early on and then Poland beat Old Forge 3-0 at the end of the regular season.
Poland entered action as the two time defending Class D1 Champs.
Poland entered action playing for its first Overall Class D title since 2007.
Old Forge won a Class D 2 title and the only team to beat the Eskimos is Poland.
Old Forge lost to eventual state champs Hamilton in last year’s Class D Overall title tilt.
Poland 4 Old Forge 0
1 2 Total
Old Forge 0 0 0
Poland 2 2 4
MHTS Scoring Summary
Mark Shelhamer-2 goals
Ross Agen-1 goal
Daniel Borner-1 goal
Austin Dexter-1 assist
Mitch Jones-5 saves
Colin Criss-10 saves-4 goals