It was a special night on Moiseichik Field for the Cortland High girls’ varsity soccer team Thursday.
It was Senior Night and before the game, the Purple Tigers recognized the contributions of Kathryn Aumick, Baylor McCutcheon, Amaya Willis, Gabby Fowler, Tora Edwards, Liz Decker, Hannah Aldrich, Jenicah Brown, McKenna Snyder, Marissa Gilmore, Tori Cruz, Lillian Quick, Grace Call and Kaitlyn Pratt over the years to the soccer program. When that was over, Cortland proceeded to earn a hard-fought 3-2 SCAC Empire Division win over East Syracuse-Minoa. The Purple Tigers improve to 9-4 in the division and 11-4 overall. The Spartans drop to 7-6 in the division and 7-7 over- all.
“Our seniors started the game off and did a nice job holding ES-M off and creating some opportunities,” Cortland coach Ilona Ryon said. “Gabby Fowler had a nice diagonal ball from the right back position early in the game. Lillian Quick started off in our back line and was quick to pick off passes ES-M sent to their forwards. Hannah Aldrich was ready to work on the right side of the field as she connected with the center midfielders Tori and Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn played through some tough balls to the head and a hard foul from behind tonight, which really gave us some strength in the middle of the field. Tora Edwards and Liz Decker worked together up top pressuring ES-M’s back line. Grace Call did a phenomenal job tonight taking the ball out of the air and getting to the ball before ES-M’s forwards Jenna Hudgins and Angelina Polcaro.
“Maia Quick was also excellent with her volleys out of the back and good awareness during a dangerous cross which she shielded until Marissa Gilmore was able to come off her line and collect,” Ryon added. “Marissa’s punts are solid and usually get us all the way back to the center line. That is where Lillian, Kaitlyn, or Tori help win the ball with a quick settle or a flick of the ball. Kathryn Aumick is capable of playing on both the right and back sides of our back line and started off on the left side tonight denying ESM’s forwards their turning and crossing opportunities.”
All this work paid off when Cortland scored its first goal with 9:15 left in the first half. Cruz took a corner kick and sent the ball into the box. Lillian Quick got in position and found an opening where she drove the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
With 17 seconds left in the half, Cruz gave the Purple Tigers a 2-0 advantage heading into the halftime break. Cruz stole the ball from an ES-M player, turned and fired a shot towards the goal.
Spartan goalkeeper Isabella Chavoustie tried the stop the shot, but the ball had enough pace that it slipped through her gloves and into the side of the net.
Cortland continued to work hard to control play and ES-M worked just a hard to get back into the game. After an injury to an ES-M player, the Spartans controlled the drop ball to restart play. Gianna Coccagina won the drop and passed the ball to Hailey Cwikla at the top of the 18. Cwikla dribbled to her right and took a shot that curved just inside the right post seven minutes into the half to pull ES-M to within 2-1.
Eight minutes later, Cruz got her second goal of the game and an insurance goal for the Purple Tigers. Cruz curled the ball towards the goal off a corner kick. Chavoustie couldn’t adjust to the curving ball and knocked it into the side of the goal for a 3-1 cushion for the Purple Tigers.
ES-M did get a goal from Isabella Pickard with 23 minutes left in the game off an assist from Jenna Hudgins.
With the score 3-2, ES-M tried to get the equalizer, but the Purple Tigers did everything needed to preserve the win.
“Kayla Swartwood was a physical presence on the left side of the eld and did a nice job stepping forward winning some 50/50 balls,” Ryon said. “Ella Quick was using her speed to help back on defense with ES-M’s fast, attacking players and to track down a long cross that was sent to her side of the eld from the middle third of the eld. Kaitlyn Pratt played through her injury from the first half and helped control the mid eld. Marissa made some big saves when needed. I’m very proud of this team and I’m looking forward to having our seniors continue to lead us in our post- season games.”
ES-M held an 8-7 edge in shots while Cortland generated its scoring chances off eight corner kicks while the Spartans only had one. Gilmore finished the game with six saves for the Purple Tigers. Chavoustie made three saves for ES-M and Sophia Conzone had one save.
Cortland will close out the SCAC Empire Division season next Thursday (Oct.17) at Jamesville-DeWitt with a 4:30 p.m. game. Section 3 Tournament action begins after that.