Margaretville girls top H-T before falling in sectional play
By Julia Green
The Margaretville girls, who entered the postseason seeded 10th following an 8-7 regular season, faced the host Wildcats of Hunter-Tannersville in the opening round match-up last Tuesday. It marked the second meeting between the two teams this season; the Blue Devils posted a 4-1 regular season win over Hunter in mid-September.
“I had heard they had changed their goalie and had a stronger second half of their season,” said MCS Head Coach Toni Smith. “You can’t assume anything in the game of soccer, so we knew that we had to play our best soccer, and we were not assuming anything.”
The Margaretville girls edged out a 1-0 win over the Wildcats; Erica Faulkner’s goal from about 10 yards out off a cross from Tess Svoboda with 6:45 remaining in the first half would prove to be the game-winner.
Smith said that although her squad didn’t play their usual game, allowing the Wildcats to stay in a game they felt they should have dominated, she felt the second half was stronger. And although the Blue Devils were unable to tally a second goal, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“I think we played a little better in the second half, but we weren’t able to finish on some nice opportunities,” she said.
She added that the time that elapsed between Tuesday’s first-round match and the last game of the regular season was a challenge that may have impacted her team.
“I truly think the layover of a week and a half is not the best for any team,” Smith said. “We end the regular season and then you have the week before crossovers and then a couple of days more before you start playing your sectionals.”
Margaretville goalkeeper Meg McKenna tallied three saves for the Blue Devils, who outshot the Wildcats 10-4 and held a 4-3 corner kick advantage.
With the win over Hunter, the Blue Devils advanced to the quarterfinals, where they faced the second-seeded Dragons of Schenevus (15-1) at Schenevus on Saturday.
“We entered the game knowing that we were a huge underdog,” said Smith. “They had only allowed two goals the entire season, and they were both in one game.”
It proved to be a tough match-up for the Blue Devils, who were nursing a number of injuries. Noticeably missing from Saturday’s game was one of Margaretville’s difference-makers: center midfielder and defensive stalwart Amanda Drizis, who was out with a severe ankle sprain.
“Amanda has been our solid player all season long, and this along with our other injuries made us juggle and realign some of our players,” Smith said. Also battling injury were starters Amy Filupeit and Karla Nava.
It proved to be a game with little in the way of offensive opportunities, as evidenced by a minimal 5-3 shot advantage in Schenevus’ favor. Schenevus was able to capitalize on one of the five, however, when Mikayla Bookhout scored off a header that was crossed in from the right-hand side with 24 minutes remaining in the first half.
“We played very well,” Smith aid. “We challenged them, and they were concerned. The play was at both ends. I’m very proud of how our girls were flexible I the positions they played. We held them to a 5-3 shot advantage and they were able to score on a cross and a header, and we had some opportunities and we just weren’t able to finish on them.”
Smith added that goalkeeper Meg McKenna was key for the Blue Devils in the quarterfinal match; McKenna tallied three saves.
“They kept up their intensity,” Smith said of her squad. “They played hard, worked well defensively, kept working the ball up the outside and trying to cross it… unfortunately, we were unable to finish as far as putting it in the net.”
The Blue Devils finish the season with a 9-8 overall record and will lose five seniors to graduation: Amanda Drizis, Erica Faulkner, Carly Galatioto, Christine Kelly and Michelle O’Reilly.
“Before the game I told the girls, especially the five seniors, that if you’re going to end your season and your high school soccer career, go out in style and leave an impression on what you’ve accomplished over the years,” Smith said. “And they did just that, and I’m proud of them.”