MCS boys down rival SK to advance in tourney

By John Bernhardt
In 180 minutes of head-to-head competition prior to Friday’s quarterfinal showdown, the Margaretville and South Kortright boys’ soccer teams had managed a combined three goals.  The defensive fortress crumbled on Friday as the Blue Devils outlasted the Rams, 4-3, in a wild and woolly Section IV quarterfinal contest played in Margaretville.

The offensive fireworks got underway quickly when SK’s Dylan Cole fired a corner kick toward the goal face 3:30 minutes into the game.  Cole’s cross deflected off the head of a Margaretville defender and just like that, South Kortright was out in front, 1-0.

Sam Gil played a major role in Margaretville’s first counter.  Gil got warmed up 11:30 into the fray by playing a long Kyle Short throw in from the right sideline to the left wing and firing a shot that deflected off a Ram defender’s leg.  The ball skidded to the right beyond SK goalie Brett Post then skipped past a charging Ryan Sanford and outside the goal.

Gil hit pay dirt five minutes later.  Caleb Todd initiated the scoring volley by plucking the ball out of the air and sending a high, soft volley toward the top of the goal.  With Post charging forward, Gill settled the ball, and grounded a shot softly on the right side of the nets.

Margaretville defender James Warner temporarily kept SK away from the goal.  When a long SK throw-in bounced off Margaretville goalie Mitch Hull, Warner was there to clear the ball away from an open net.

Each team scored goals within 37 seconds late in the opening half.  Senior midfielder Trevor Holdridge juked a Margaretville outside fullback outside the box on the right hand side of the field and fired a blistering bullet at the goal.  With almost no time to react, Hull made a brilliant kick save deflecting the ball to his right.  Ty Magnum, stationed off the far pole was there to drill the ball home for SK.

The Blue Devils countered immediately.  Matt VanValkenburg won a ball near the right sideline sending a high cross into the crease directly in front of the goal.  Margaretville’s Cooper Reither and SK’s Brett Post arrived simultaneously, Post going down, and Reither tipping the ball into the goal for the tying score.

Margaretville took their first lead in the game 2:25 minutes before the half.  Once again, VanValkenburg had a hand in the score.  The Margaretville striker won a ball in the midfield and grounded a perfect through ball catching Kyle Short in full stride.  Short streaked past the closest Ram defender driving one-on-one on Post and slammed a shot along the ground and into the goal.  Advantage Margaretville.

SK would not be deterred.  The Rams evened the count at 3-3 with 22:45 to play.  SK used a throw-in to find Holdridge. The SK senior settled the ball, turned and drilled a shot into the right hand side of the nets.

Two Kyle Short near scores with fewer than 10 minutes to play may have been an omen.  As the scoreboard clock wore down it seemed like Short was everywhere.  Short’s speed gave the SK defense fits, with the Margaretville striker nearly breaking free twice within a two-minute span.
The third time was a charm for Short and Margaretville.  The winning score started with a high Caleb Todd chip from the defensive side of the field.  Victor Martinez played the ball by sending a second chip in the direction of the goal that lured SK goalie Griffin Metzko forward. With 2:12 to play, a streaking Hull flew past Metzko for the game winning score.

Margaretville’s road to a Section IV championship only gets bumpier.  Up next, top seeded Elmira Notre Dame in a semi-final showdown scheduled, weather permitting, to take place yesterday at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta.  Should the Blue Devils reach the finals they would face the winner of second seeded Marathon and third seeded Cherry Valley.  Marathon proved they could be the team to beat with a convincing 6-0 quarterfinal victory over Roxbury.  The Section IV title game will take place on Saturday, Nov. 3 in Oneonta.