WATERTOWN — Riley Connell scored the game-winning goal from the top of the box in the 52nd minute Tuesday night as the host No. 7 Watertown boys’ soccer team ekes past No. 10 Cortland 2-1 in a Section 3 Class A first round game.
The Cyclones (15-1) opened the scoring in the 21st minute as Cody Benham headed home a free kick by Stefon Lucidi. The Purple Tigers (6-9-2) answered a minute later as Nick Litzenberger chested down a free kick by Chris Tanner and beat Watertown goalie Sebastian Mastin.
Cortland goalie Josh Henry made 13 saves to 10 for Mastin as Watertown had A 22-15 shot advantage to go with a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
Watertown meets No. 2 PSLA at Fowler (13-1-1) Thursday at Corcoran in the quarterfinals, the time to be determined.
“The boys played a great game,” CHS coach Luke Schweider said. “They played with heart for every minute of that game. The competitiveness from such a young team was outstanding against a team with 14 wins. Chris Tanner played with everything he had for the full 80 minutes. Being such a versatile player, he was used in different positions. Towards the end he was moved up to striker and was able to create more chances up top. Grayson Jones played a phenomenal game. Grayson made runs, found space, played dangerous passes and got shots off and on target, almost converting two free kicks into goals. Josh Henry came up big in net once again.
Nick Litzenberger Martin Monroe combined to make a dangerous duo in the middle. The back four — Ethan Myers, Cody Benner, Henry Storch, and Owen Riley — played great defense and didn’t let their pressing outside middies get any easy opportunities.”
Schweider also reflected on the season as a whole, which saw Cortland make its first post-season appearance since 2014.
“Our goals at the beginning of the year included making sectionals, and earning respect in our league,” he said. “The first goal was obviously completed. The second one, I think we went above and beyond. Every team in our league has complimented our young team on how talented they are and how hard they work. The referees comment on how well we play and how composed we are.
“Even teams that we play outside of our league have been complimentary. Watertown said that our record, with only six wins, didn’t show in the way we played tonight and that we played like a team with just as many wins as them. I think it is safe to say that respect has been earned by the way we play, the way we compose ourselves, and the heart that is shown, day in and day out.”