LADY SPARTANS OUTLAST CORTLAND 2-1-ADVANCE IN SECTION III TOURNEY
The Lady Spartans maul Annika Zalewski following her double overtime goal, which was eventually the game winner.
Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo
Annika Zalewski scored the the go ahead goal for New Hartford 2:22 into the second overtime period and the Lady Spartans held on to defeat the Cortland Purple Tigers by a score of 2-1 in the opening round of the Section III, Class “A” girl’s soccer tournament.
New Hartford entered the tournament as the 7th seed, will now advance to play second seeded Jamesville-DeWitt on Friday in Syracuse. Jamesville-DeWitt is the two time defending Section III champion.
New Hartford took a lead in this match at the 19:47 mark of the first half when the Spartans leading scorer this season, Rachel Zalewski, pounded a high arching ball from almost 30 yards away that skipped off the fingertips of Cortland keeper Amanda Edwards, then off the crossbar, before hitting the back of the net to make it one – nil in favor of the home club. Zalewski’s goal was her 13th of the season.
New Hartford definitely had the most aggressive offense in the opening 40 minutes of this contest, out shooting the Purple Tigers 7 to 2 in the opening stanza.
The midfielders and defenders for New Hartford also did an outstanding job trapping Cortland’s offensive efforts during the first half, which resulted in a tremendous amount of frustration for the visitors early on.
Cortland entered tonight’s match as the Section III tournament’s 8th seed, with a record of (8-7 overall) and (5-6-1) in the very difficult Onondaga High School League Freedom National Division, which includes arch rival Homer and perennial powerhouse Jamesville – DeWitt.
The Lady Spartans, a very young team with just 6 seniors on its roster of 20, finished second in the always difficult Tri-Valley League behind undefeated and state ranked #8 Whitesboro this season.
The home club seemed to pull their collective horns in offensively in the second half of tonight’s win or stay home match, favoring a more defensive posture to hold the one goal advantage.
That strategy appeared to pay big dividends for the first thirty six minutes of the second half as sophomores Allie Turi, Dan Del Genio and Mallory Max repeatedly stymied Cortland mid fielders and forced the ball to the outside and out of harm’s way.
With four minutes to play however, Cortland got even when Kennedy Cook’s corner kick sailed into the mass of humanity in front of Spartans keeper Kelly Bishop and founds its way onto the foot of Molly Herting, who knocked it home and knotted the match at 1-1.
Neither team mounted a serious scoring threat for the remainder of regular time and the two teams headed to overtime, in front of a very large crowd which had filed into the stands at Don Edick Field.
New Hartford nearly took the lead just three minutes into the first five minute extra session, when Allie Turi blasted a shot from almost midfield that caught Amanda Edwards off guard and nearly slipped over her out stretched hands, with nothing but a large goal behind her.
Edwards reacted just in time though and made her 10th save of the game to keep the teams tied at 1-1, which is the way they would go to the second O.T., this one a ten minute affair.
After two minutes of solid pressure by the New Hartford offense to open the second extra session, Annika Zalewski finally found herself alone in front of the Cortland goal, where she calmly knocked a low roller past Edwards and into the back left corner of the Cortland goal to put New Hartford up 2-1.
The remaining 7:38 of the second overtime was hectic and saw each team trade scoring chances several times, but didn’t yield another goal and the Spartans came away with an impressive opening playoff round win.
Amanda Edwards finished the night with 11 saves for Cortland, which ends its season at (8-8).
Kelly Bishop stopped 8 shots for New Hartford, which improved to (11-6) on the season.
Congratulations to both clubs on a very hard fought contest tonight and best of luck to the Lady Spartans on the road this Friday at Jamesville – DeWitt.
New Hartford 2 Cortland 1-2OT
1 2 OT OT Final
Cortland 0 1 0 0 1
New Hartford 1 0 0 1 2