Rams hold off Devils to capture Crossover
By John Bernhardt
Lightning didn’t strike twice for the Margaretville boys’ soccer team.
After falling behind, 2-0, early in Saturday’s Delaware League title game at the Soccer Hall of Fame fields in Oneonta, the Blue Devils hoped to find the same magic that lifted them to a come-from-behind, regular season, victory over the Rams. Margaretville tried the same formula, rallying to knot the score during the close of the opening half.
But, this time the energy waned, and the Rams took control during the final 40 minutes to nail the winning goal and take home their third consecutive Delaware League title.
Saturday’s showdown was a game of ebbs and flows. South Kortright made a statement almost instantly, scoring two times in the first nine minutes and dominating the early minutes of the contest. Early in the game, the Rams drove the ball deep into Margaretville territory and were awarded the first of eight corner kicks. Ryan Dorosky used a banana curl to put the ball in front of the net from the corner, and Kyle Hotaling jumped high to slam a sizzling headshot into the goal with only 3:55 gone in the game.
SK’s intensity kept Margaretville back on their heels in the early going. The Rams chalked up their second goal five minutes later. Trevor Holdridge started the scoring drive by penetrating the ball past two defenders deep down the right sideline. Holdridge drilled a shot to the far side of the goal that was batted away by Margaretville’s diving goalie, Brian Faulkner. Damon Gardner bolted toward the ball from the left side to pound the rebound into the nets.
“You make things pretty tough on yourself anytime you get behind South Kortright by two goals,” lamented Margaretville coach Jeremey Marks. “They defend aggressively and playing catch-up against SK is never easy.”
But, Margaretville stepped up to the challenge. The Blue Devils stopped trying to push the ball through the middle, extending the field and using their speed and foot skills to execute several offensive charges. With Josh Smith, Javier Martinez and Marcus Moore paving the way, Margaretville fought back.
Smith got the Blue Devils on the scoreboard midway through the half with a lot of help from Martinez and Moore. Martinez penetrated the left wing, pushing a pass into the middle finding Moore. Moore’s strike on goal was stopped by SK goalie Charlie Darling, but Smith was there to line the rebound into the nets on the right-hand side.
Margaretville maintained the pressure throughout the half, finally tying the score at 2-2 with only 2:12 to go before intermission. Greg Lehn set the table by stealing the ball near the midfield and advancing it down the left hand lane. Lehn used some fancy foot work, faking a shot and then directing a pass between the legs of an SK defender that Moore played in full stride, pounding a hard strike high into the upper right corner for the Blue Devils’ second score.
Moore’s goal pumped up the Blue Devils sending them into intermission flying high. Like they had during a 2-1 victory over SK in the regular season, Margaretville hoped to use the energy of a score just before the half to carry them to the league crown.
But, South Kortright had other plans. The Rams took command early in the final half and never relinquished their advantage. Trevor Holdridge was the trigger on the winning drive. Holdridge dribbled the ball deep down the left side of the field and then directed a pass to the middle finding teammate Kyle Hotaling. With the Blue Devils’ defense scrambling to converge around Hotaling, the Rams’ striker attempted a shot. The ball deflected off a defender’s leg back to Holdridge who, this time, powered a crossing pass that found Ryan Dorosky all alone. Dorosky finished the series with a score with less than seven minutes gone in the half. That strike proved to be the game winner.
Dorosky’s goal was the pin that popped Margaretville’s bubble. The Blue Devils lost their focus as SK controlled play for a long stretch in the second half. Margaretville never really got their game untracked the rest of the way.
“We made some costly mistakes you can’t commit against a team like SK,” said Marks. “We got caught playing up the middle of the field too much and missed out on using our speed from the wings.”
The win gives SK three consecutive Delaware League crowns. South Kortright improves their record to 15-2-1 and enters the Section IV tournament as the top-seeded team.
As the second seed, Upper Division champions Margaretville, would like nothing more than another shot at the Rams. If the two teams meet again, it can only be in the Section IV finals. The Blue Devils have an opening round bye and will take on the winner of the Andes versus Roxbury game played yesterday afternoon at Roxbury, in the quarterfinals.