CORTLAND — 2020 was a challenging season for the Cortland Purple Tigers boys’ soccer team, coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding.
But the effort and determination they displayed throughout the year finally paid off with their first win, a 4-0 shutout of the Bishop Ludden Gaelic Knights in the season finale Friday at Cortland High.
“This was a tough season, but a great way to finish,” Cortland head coach Luke Schweider said. “Our players didn’t let our mid-season pause or H.S. Boys’ Soccer the fact t h a t many of our games got cancelled get in their head. We played hard and left it all on the field.”
Alex Musci scored the first goal in just the fourth minute when he made a strong solo run through the defender and beat Bishop Ludden goalie Mike Losi (four saves) from the left edge of the box.
Bishop Ludden’s best opportunity to score came with a chance to tie the game with 30 seconds left in the first half. They were set up with a free kick from 5 yards outside the box on the left side, but the Cortland defense managed to head the ball away to safety.
Henry Storch extended the lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute by heading in a Matt Meagley free kick.
In the 62nd minute, David Kelchner had the highlight of the night, making two skill moves from left to right to lose his defender and create just enough space to rocket the ball into the top right corner of the net.
Meagley became the only player on the night with multiple points when he scored in the 73rd minute. His shot looked initially like it glanced off his foot and would roll harmlessly over the endline, but the ball caught the Bishop Ludden defenders by surprise and rolled in as Meagley took a tumble following through.
The win marked the first varsity shutout for goalie Scott Hourigan, who stopped all six shots on target, including one in the 22nd minute where he stretched his left arm out to deflect a shot that would have otherwise gone in, causing it to glance off the right post and right to a teammate who cleared.
“Our defenders played with intensity, which helped us build our attack,” Schweider said. “Our team had something to prove today and did a very good job proving that they are better than the record reads.”
The Purple Tigers outshot the Gaelic Knights 12-7 and earned five corner kicks to the visitors’ four.