Blue Devils capture Delaware League title

By John Bernhardt
Speed racer is James Warner, a senior defenseman on Margaretville’s undefeated soccer team. Warner had just settled a penetrating South Kortright volley, burst off the defensive line and was advancing the ball to begin a Blue Devil counter offensive. Warner’s teammates simply shook their heads in wonder, watching their speedy defensive leader weave the ball up the field.

Warner was everywhere Saturday; calling out commands to his stingy band of defensive partners, corralling SK strikers to the outside edges of the field, redirecting any ball that came even remotely close to the goal, and every now and then taking off from the deepest part of the field and pushing out with the ball to begin a Margaretville offensive charge.

Shutting them down
The net result of a days work from Warner and his friends was a suffocating Margaretville defense that limited South Kortright to only four shots on goal. Margaretville’s dominating defense was constant from start to finish as the Blue Devils downed South Kortright, 4-1, to win the 2013 Delaware League championship.

The game was played primarily in the midfield over the first 20 minutes with each team realizing only a single scoring opportunity. Nearly six minutes in, Margaretville’s Roberto Sarabia fired a rocket at the goal from outside the box, the ball deflecting off an SK defender to open space in the left corner. Mike Conroy ran the ball down and sent a cross that Sarabia headed forward, then stepped ahead to blast a shot just over the goal.

Two minutes later, SK controlled the ball at the opposite end of the field with Ty Faulk blistering a shot that whistled just over the cross pole.

The Blue Devils broke the tie at 17:10 of the half. Ben Fairbairn, a Blue Devils’ outside fullback, settled the ball a whisker on the offensive side of the field. Fairbairn advanced the ball three or four dribbles then grounded a pass to Sarabia who was 15 yards ahead on the left side of the box. Sarabia launched a rocket for the score, too hard for SK goalie Brett Post to handle, just inside the near post.

Padding the lead
Margaretville added a goal five and-one-half minutes later. Matt VanValkenburg won the ball in the right corner, finessed it around a Ram defender and scooted a pass on the ground inside the box to Sam Gill. Gill was knocked hard to the ground and a penalty shot was awarded. Gill pounded a high, hard strike into the top of the net.

VanValkenburg almost had SK on the ropes six minutes before halftime. The near score started with a Sarabia again, this time Victor Sarabia. From the defensive side of the midfield line, the freshman defenseman sent a pass to Roberto Sarabia towards the left hand sideline. Sarabia touched a pass finding VanValkenburg who settled the ball and fired a strike toward the goal. The shot caromed off the inside of the far pole into the arms of a twisting, turning SK goalie who dove and secured the ball inches in front of the goal line.

SK left intermission fired up, scoring their lone goal within three minutes of the final half. The Rams were awarded a corner kick, their only one of the game. Sam Fabrykiewicz floated a gorgeous cross across the goal face, and a Margaretville defender plowed over an SK striker drawing an infraction and an SK penalty shot. Griff Metzko slammed a shot past Margaretville goalie Eric Mathiesen for the score.

Margaretville’s Kyle Short showed off the strong arm that makes him one the Delaware League’s top baseball pitchers by launching throw-ins that started Margaretville’s two final scores. VanValkenburg was the recipient of both of Short long tosses, heading them into the nets for scores.

Sectionals afoot
The focus for both teams now shifts to the Section IV, Class D playoffs. South Kortright hosts Stamford in an opening round contest on Wednesday. Margaretville earned an opening round bye and will face the winner of Morris vs. Southern Cayuga at home on Saturday.
Both the Roxbury girls and boys teams reached the Section IV Tournament. The Roxbury girls traveled to Morris in opening round action last night with the Rocket guys on the road today to face Milford.