Each week, the challenge has been tougher and it will be no different when the Marathon boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer team step on the field today.
The Olympians squads are one win away from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four as they prepare to take on the Section 3 champions from Poland in the Central Region Class D Championships.
The Marathon girls travel to Norwich this afternoon for a 2:30 p.m. game against Poland (20-0). The Olympians are 12-5-2 after their 3-0 win over Cherry Valley-Springfield in the Section 4 championship one week ago. The Tornadoes were 4-1 winners over Copenhagen in the Section 3 title match Nov. 1 at SUNY Cortland.
Poland is the number one ranked team in the latest NYS Class D poll. Marathon has vaulted up to the number five stop after completing its string of upsets in Section 4. Marathon last went to the regionals in 2010, losing to Sauquoit Valley 2-1.
Time changed for boys’ title game
There has been a change in the start time for today’s NYSPHSAA Central Region Class D Championship boys’ soccer game at Liverpool High School. The game between the Marathon boys and Poland will now begin 4 p.m., one hour later than originally scheduled.
The two teams have a common opponent in McGraw. Marathon battled the Eagles to a 1-1 tie Oct. 14. Poland routed McGraw 7-0 in the Section 3 semifinal round Oct. 30.
“We are facing the number-one-ranked team in the state,” Marathon coach Beth Anne Duncan said. “Poland is led by their prolific scorer Riley Wishart (2018 first team all-state player) and they have been on a revenge tour all season after losing in PK’s to Cincinnatus in the Section 3 final last year. They are a fast team with outstanding foot skills that plays well together. They have two other players that were on the all-state team last year, midfielder Leah Basel and defender Amanda Sweet.
“We have been the underdog the last three rounds of sectionals and will be on again on Saturday. We embrace this role, I think it motivates our players to prove something. The last three games against state-ranked opponents we have scored eight goals and allowed only one. Scoring during the regular season, at times, was hard for our team. By moving Brooke Tillotson up to the midfield she has created scoring opportunities for her teammates with excellent field visibility and executing passes to put her teammates in scoring position. The duo of Tillotson and Delta Barber in the midfield has created match-up problems for Section 4 Class D opponents. Defender Jenelle Short has played outstanding thus far breaking up entry passes to attacking players and also looking to be aggressive herself on the offensive end.”
Duncan said the game plan is simple for Saturday.
“Our game plan is to stay as aggressive as possible at the offensive end and try to create pressure on their defense,” she stated. “When we are attacking and score first, the confidence of the team noticeably improves. We have options if we need to make changes throughout the game in formation and personnel, but thus far our approach has been successful. The girls know they are in for a battle, if they want to come out on top they have to remain focused, play smart and play with confidence.”
Marathon’s boys are still the number two team in the state’s Class D ranking behind Chazy from Section 7. The Olympians enter today’s 4 p.m. game at Liverpool High School with a 17- 0-1 after their 4-1 victory over Cherry Valley-Springfield last Saturday for the Section 4 championship. Poland (17-3) is ranked fourth in the state and is coming of a 2-1 win over Fabius-Pompey this past Tuesday in the Section 3 title match.
Marathon and Poland last met in a Central Region Championship game in 2012 in Norwich. That game ended in a 1-1 tie before Poland advanced to Middletown on penalty kicks, 5-4.
“It should be a good game as they have good speed with a good scorer up front that we need to know where he is at all times,” Marathon coach Chip Stewart said. “They are very physical as well. We will need to do a good job of possessing the ball and finishing off opportunities as their goalie is very good. It’s been a tough week of practices, as the weather has not been very cooperative, but they probably had the same problem. Hopefully, we can get our feet under us early and put pressure on them from the start. You have two teams that have coaches and players that have played in these games before so both teams will be prepared and well schooled. The team that makes the fewest mistakes and the team that can take advantage of those mistakes will have a great opportunity to move on to Middletown!”
The Olympians went to the Final Four last year after defeating Cincinnatus 2-0 in the Central Region Champion game at the Wright National Soccer Campus fields in Oneonta.