The Cortland High girls’ soccer team had things going its way.
Playing with a fairly strong wind at their backs, the Purple Tigers had tied Tuesday’s Section 3 Class A first-round game with visiting Carthage 1-1 on an unassisted goal by freshman midfielder Lillian Quick, her fifth of the season, with 12:37 gone in the second half.
That in turn inspired the sixth-seeded hosts to turn things up a notch offensively and add even more pressure to a dominating performance that had produced a number of good chances, but just the one goal.
A few moments of 11th-seeded Carthage being able to counterattack changed everything, though.
Eighth-grade midfielder Emma Herrmann scored what proved to be the winning goal unassisted on a high shot from 10 yards out on the near left side with 7:32 left and the Comets held on the rest of the way and headed north with a 2-1 win.
“We were the better team, but unfortunately came up short,” CHS coach Ilona Ryon said quietly as the red-clad winners noisily left Moiseichik Field. “We made a couple of silly mistakes, and I don’t think we played as a single unit. There were moments of individual brilliance from players throughout the game.
“I wish the team would have focused more on passing to feet and crossing the ball back. At halftime we said how it was nice we’d have the wind at our backs the second half and talked a little about positioning, where to be on their weak side for crosses.”
The Purple Tigers, who finished the season at 9-7-1, trailed 1-0 at halftime on a goal by Carthage sophomore midfielder Claire Odett after the third of three consecutive corner kicks by the visitors. The ball came off the foot of senior midfielder Rekekah Zehr to the front of the Cortland goal, where Odett put her seventh goal of the season past Purple Tigers freshman goalie Marissa Gilmore.
“That was huge,” Carthage coach Marty Weaver said, his team now 6-10 and headed to third-seeded New Hartford (12-4) Thursday for a 6:15 p.m. “What we were hoping for was to get a goal with the win at our backs because we knew that in the second half it would be difficult to even get the ball down the field. It helped us mentally to have the lead. The girls kept fighting.
“It was one of those days. We did what we had to do. It wasnÕt pretty; we were obviously played for a good part of the game. But sometimes it only takes a couple of runs to get the scoring you need.”
CORTLAND, WHICH HAD the ball in the Carthage end for a good 70 percent of the game, had four shots before Carthage counterattacked and got its three straight corner kicks, the third of which yielded Odett’s goal.
The hosts intensified the pressure at that point, senior midfielder Logan Chase and freshman forward Tori Cruz leading the way and junior midfielder Jade Shively sending a shot from 10 yards out in a crowd over the crossbar, but came up empty before halftime.
It was more of the same to start the second half, as Comets senior goalie Wallace just beat Chase to loose balls twice in a three minute span, making a leg save in the second instance, with 31:45 left.The teams exchanged misses on long shots before Quick let loose a blast from 25 yards out on the near left side that went just under the bar and just over WallaceÕs outstretched arms with 27:23 left.
Cortland shot went just over the net and hit the football crossbar twice in the next 11 minutes, Cruz spearheading the pressure that resulted in a 5-0 CHS run in shots over that span.
A long kick from midfielder by junior defender Shayla Marsh sent the ball in toward Wallace, who collided with the oncoming Chase on the play with 11:45 left, both down for a time with Wallace needing to leave the game. She was replaced by Herrmann and came right back in seconds later after the next stoppage in play.
“The girls were happy to have Micaela back in goal,” Weaver said. “You could hear them cheering from the bench.”
That in turn inspired Carthage, which in turn resulted in HerrmannÕ’s game-winner, her fifth goal of the season, unassisted.
“THE CROSS CAME in off a defender, I settled it with my chest, turned and hit it from there,” Herrmann said with a smile. “I thought I sent it in at a good angle from where I was. That definitely took some of the pressure off. It also helped us when we saw Micaela come back.
“We persevered, worked as a team and got through it, giving everything we had,” she added.
The hosts managed only three good chances down the stretch, the best one seeing Wallace just beat junior midfielder/forward Alaina Rabusin to the ball with 1:50 left. As the final whistle sounded, the entire Comets squad streamed out to celebrate with Wallace in their net as Cortland’s players slumped to the turf or looked on stunned.
CHS had a 25-8 shot advantage in the game and got five saves from Gilmore while Wallace made 16 saves.
“I thought Lillian and Logan had good games, and Tori worked hard up top,” Ryon said. “And Kalianne McCloskey (senior defender) played well. We’re disappointed, but it shouldn’t overshadow all we’ve accomplished this season. This is a young team, and I look forward to what we can accomplish next year as well.”