With Haldane’s celebration still echoing from the other field at SUNY Cortland’s two-field, stadium complex, Somers grabbed the Class A crown. As with the Blue Devils, this was the Tuskers’ first state in the history of their soccer program.
Below is my game story with some extra notes. Photos are by Chris Kitchen. –Nancy
CORTLAND It’s said that nothing tastes sweeter than revenge.
Maybe that’s especially true when the revenge is a long time in the making.
“I still wake up in the middle of the night, seeing that ball dribbling in the goal,” said Somers first-year head coach Paul Saia, who was the assistant coach at the time.
Saia and the Tuskers should sleep better from now on.
Somers scored once in the first half and twice in the second en route to a 3-1 win in the Class A state championship game over Rockville Centre South Side Sunday at SUNY Cortland.
Somers, which had never won a girls soccer championship, was just 58 seconds away from sharing it in 2011 before Rockville scored.
“I’m so happy right now,” said senior Michelle Wienecke, who was on that 2011 squad and said this year’s team received “messages, Snaps, tweets, everything” from other members of that team.
Hannon Eberts (at right, number 12) took a feed from Ciara Ostrander deep in Rockville’s zone. With a defender on her back, she took a couple of steps, semi-sideways, deked with a pause, then fired a shot past Cyclones’ keeper Kayla Klarides.
The Tuskers put another goal in in the first two minutes of the second half with Melina Couzis heading in Ostrander’s header. (Photo of another Couzis header above.)
But the Cyclones, winners of 17 state championships between Class A and B, didn’t go quietly.
With 13:56 left, Gabrielle Lucas scored her first goal of the season, a beautiful shot, high inside the left post.
Rockville kept the offensive pressure up for the next several minutes. But Somers scored with 7:43 on a pretty passing play between Ostrander (number 4 below) and Couzis that was finished with Melissa Righetti hammering home the shot.
“We’ve been proving everyone wrong the entire season. This year had been incredible,” said senior Hayley Bonner (top photo, number 23), another 2011 team alum, who, like Wienecke, had an outstanding defensive game.
Notes: Eberts was named the Tuskers’ outstanding player for the game. Hanley was named the top goalie. Rockville’s Keri Cavallo was her team’s MVP. … It was cold, cold, cold, made worse by a biting wind, during the game and post-game awards ceremony. But that didn’t stop the Tuskers from kissing the championship plaque. … Wienecke, like Saia, said she remembered “every single second” of the end of the championship loss four years ago. Of Somers’ win, she remarked, “Hard work wins championships.” … Saia, who played soccer for the Tuskers a few decades ago, proved he can also sing, belting out a few lines as “Sweet Caroline” played over the PA post-game. … Eberts missed a great chance to make it a 2-0 game just before the half. She dodged a defender but lost the ball when dodging the goalie and lay face-down on the turf for a few seconds. But she didn’t stay emotionally down for long. “My teammates instantly picked me up and built my confidence,” she said. Eberts also said she had had faith in her team. “I was confident in us. Every single player on this team puts forth everything. I knew we could do it. ”