November 26, 2021

Cortland boys’ soccer team dealt loss on Senior Night

Katie Vartanian/contributed photo

ES-M’s Todd Durantini (15) battles Cortland’s Henry Storch for the ball during Thursday’s boys’ soccer game. ES-M won, 2-0.

CORTLAND — Plenty of soccer games have been put away in the first half with fewer shots than the East Syracuse-Minoa Spartans recorded Thursday night.

But it doesn’t really matter how many shots you take when you prevent your opposition from barely shooting at all.

In a game that was not nearly as close as the final score indicated, the Cortland Purple Tigers were outshot 29-2 as they dropped a 2-0 decision to ES-M at Cortland High.

ES-M started the game with seven shots in the first seven minutes, but Cortland goalie Scott Hourigan only had to make two saves. Four of the other shots were blocked or went over the crossbar, and another crawled tantalizingly across the face of goal and almost over the line, but was cleared.

Eventually, in the 30th minute, on ES-M’s 17th shot of the first half, Armin Osmanovic put home a rebound off the Cortland defenders to Hourigan’s left.

At halftime, ES-M led in shots 22-0 and corners 6-0, but in goals — the only stat that matters in the end — they led just 1-0.

How were the Purple Tigers able to keep the game within arm’s reach?

“We were able to keep the game within reach by staying compact defensively,” Cortland head coach Luke Schweider said. “We’ve worked on our defensive shape and how to defend as a team. The team executed our defensive plan really well today and were able to be in the right place at the right time. Our plan was to slow them down and make scoring goals difficult. Our attacking goal was to counter on the outside and take advantage of their outside backs pushing up.”

It didn’t take nearly as long for the Spartans to find the back of the net in the second half. In the 48th minute, Todd Durantini took a brilliant through ball and was all alone with Hourigan (20 saves), eventually tapping it by him and into the net for a 2-0 lead.

But that was all the scoring ES-M could muster.

In the final 10 minutes, the conditions started to impact the game. In the 71st minute, there was confusion as to whether an ES-M player was brought down from behind in the box, which would lead to a penalty shot, or if he slipped on his own. The referee ruled a goal kick for Cortland, to which the ESM fans made their displeasure known.

On top of that, each team committed an illegal throw-in when the ball slipped out of their thrower’s hands and straight down out of bounds as he brought it forward.

To their credit, the Purple Tigers stayed composed throughout the game, even while being pinned in their half of the field for most of it, and the cold, wind and rain adding insult to the injury of the Spartans’ offensive bombardment.

While it was not the ideal optics for Cortland’s Senior Night, it was a testament to the mental conditioning that Schweider prioritized just as much as physical conditioning during the offseason.

“The team’s mental toughness was definitely on display today,” Schweider said. “It is extremely hard and aggravating to play against a team that has most of the possession. They understood that they had a job to do defensively and when the attacking opportunities arose, they would do their best to try and finish.”

As for his seniors, Schweider said he “talked to the seniors about leaving it all out on the field and playing hard. It was evident that they did exactly that. After the game we talked about how strong we played defensively and how hard we worked. I am proud of how they played tonight.”

Cortland (0-4) has its next game Tuesday at Auburn.