DRYDEN — Youth can quickly become leaders and that is what happened in Tuesday’s Section 4 Class B boys’ soccer tournament semifinal game at Tompkins Cortland CC.
Despite dominating much of the play, second-seeded Dryden found itself on the losing end of a thrilling 2-1 double overtime game against third seed Chenango Valley. Warriors freshman Aidan Marroquin won a foot race to a deflected ball with Purple Lion goalkeeper Steven Morrow and poked the ball inside the right post with 4:02 left in the second 15-minute overtime period for the game-winner.
“This win means so much,” Marroquin said. “Our school has been an underdog for so long. Nobody has really thought about us. Our team, we work together. We love each other and that’s what really brings us together. That’s why we won. It’s an amazing experience.”
“These kids continue to battle through,” Chenango Valley coach Ted Hoffman said. “They never cease to amaze me. They never say die, they don’t know how to lose. They don’t see themselves as an underdog. They go out there and play. They are learning as they go along. I just feel blessed to out here with these guys.
“Aidan came through. We knew it was just a matter of time. We knew if we could get him free he would bury one for us. The guys are continuing to get the skills and the fitness to play at this level. These young kids aren’t suppose to play at this varsity level yet.”
Dryden (13-3-1) held a 22-5 advantage in shots and 11-1 margin in corner kicks, but another Warrior freshman, Eric Jewson, made 15 saves. Steven Morrow made one save for the Purple Lions.
“Unfortunately, this is the way this game is,” Dryden coach Laszlo Engel said. “This game isn’t always fair. You have to get out and work hard. Every once in a while something gets by you and the other team wins.
“A couple of times we did shoot the ball right at him. You have to shoot at the side net or the far corner, things we didn’t always do tonight. But there were times that we did that and he made some really good saves. He played an awesome game.”
Chenango Valley (12-4-1) took a 1-0 lead with 29:04 in the first half on its first shot of the game. Zach Crooks centered the ball to Gavin Mercik who chipped the ball in the air for Billy Clark to finish off with a header into the corner of the goal. That would be the only goal of the first half.
Dryden would continue to pick up the pace as the game proceeded, but it wasn’t until 13:12 was left in regulation time that the Purple Lions got the equalizer. Felix Abel-Ferretti collected a loose ball and got it to Casey Phillips, who broke free of the crowd. The sophomore shot at the far post and beat Jewson to knot the score at 1-1.
The Purple Lions had a great chance to get a second goal with 8:30 left in regulation time when Phillips got behind a defender and targeted the right post again. This time, Jewson dove to his left and deflected the ball wide. Two minutes later, Abel-Ferretti took two close shots at the right post. His original shot and the rebound attempt were both thwarted by Jewson.
Marroquin nearly won the game in the first 15-minute overtime period as he got a near breakaway, but pushed his shot just wide of the post. Dryden countered with four good opportunities. Three of those were on target but saved and the fourth went just wide.
With 8:50 left in the second overtime, Phillips took a centering pass from Trey Tyler and ripped a low shot, but Jewson smothered the ball. Four minutes later, Marroquin would outrun Morrow, who raced out of the box as the only defender left, to a deflected ball about 25 yards out from the goal. Marroquin put enough pace on the ball to beat Morrow and find the right corner of the goal.
Chenango Valley will now take its team of two seniors and 17 underclassmen, 15 of them freshmen and sophomores, to Oneonta’s Wright National Fields Saturday to face top seed Oneonta (16-1) for the Class B championship, the time to be announced.
“Some people do believe we are so good because we do travel programs outside the soccer season,” Marroquin said. “That helps make us better, that helps us be better than some senior players in high school because of that competition.”
“We were aware of Casey Phillips all over the field,” Hoffman added. “Our version of Casey Phillips (another sophomore), Billy Clark, is down with an injury. They play together in Syracuse. We like watching them play against each other. When Billy came out we kind of starting scrambling to put people in positions. Then our other starting midfielder, Zach Crooks went down. We just had to keep putting freshmen out there and hope for sudden death. We got a long ball and a little deflection for the game winner.”
As for the Purple Lions, it was a good season.
“We went into every game this season knowing that we could be competitive and expected to win, even the Lansing games,” Engel said. “That’s the mentality of this group. They come hard to play every day and expect to win every game. Tonight was just one of those things.”