ONEONTA — The Marathon Central girls’ varsity soccer team has made a remarkable run in the Section 4 Class D Tournament.
The fifth-seeded Olympians capped this run with a 3-0 victory over second-seed Cherry Valley-Springfield Saturday at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta to capture the Class D championship. Marathon (12-5-2) has beaten fourth seed Roxbury, top-seed Schenvus and now second seed CV-S (15-2-1) during this title run.
“These girls came ready to play today,” Marathon coach Beth Anne Duncan said. “I kept reminding them it was their time. All of the teams we faced in sectionals were young and fast, so they will all be back next season. We have been underdogs in the last three games. All three teams were state ranked at the time we played them and we only allowed one goal to those state ranked teams. This defense and our goalkeeper should be tremendously proud of the work they have done, this postseason in particular. We have been flying under the radar a little bit as far as coming in as the fifth seed in the section and not state ranked at the time to coming out on top of Section 4 as champions. I’m so happy for these girls to experience playing for a title and coming out on top.”
Cherry Valley-Springfield was the aggressor the first 15 minutes of the game with sharp passes and keeping the Marathon defense on its toes. The Olympians began to gain their footing at the midway point of the half. Brooke Tillotson fired a shot at Patriots’ goalkeeper Kelsey Girard who made the save.
The next Marathon possession netted the first goal. CV-S was whistled for a hand ball between the 18-yard mark and midfield. Jenelle Short delivered the free kick on goal. Girard bobbled the ball and Tillotson followed with a hard shot back at the keeper. As the ball ricocheted off Girard’s gloves and back at Tillotson, Paige Hurlburt was there to body the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, the Patriots were whistled for another foul in the same spot. This time Short did not miss and sent the direct kick over Girard and into the upper right corner of the goal for a 2-0 cushion. That lead held up until halftime.
The Olympians came out stronger to start the second half. The Olympians had several good scoring chances, but Girard was equal to the task.
With 14 minutes left in the game, Delta Barber sent a crossing pass into the box and Abby Ensign finished off the play for a 3-0 advantage.
“If you told me before this game that we would have two goals off direct kicks and win 3-0, I would have said you’re crazy,” Duncan said. “But that is exactly how this post season has been going. Each game different kids have stepped up and made plays to secure wins for their team. We knew that CV-S was going to be a good team; they pass really well and are disciplined. I told the girls that our success would come if we play aggressive and keep the ball in our offensive end. We did just that.”
Marathon enjoyed a 21-10 shot advantage and took 10 corner kicks while not allowing Cherry Valley-Spring one. Girard finished with 13 saves for the Patriots. Kristi Walley made seven saves for the Olympians.
It will be a big test for Marathon in the Central Region Championship game Saturday at Norwich High School. The Olympians will face undefeated Section 3 champion, and the number one team in the New York State Class D rankings, Poland (20-0) at 2:30 p.m.