MCGRAW — With three of their final four games cancelled due to COVID issues on one side or another, the McGraw boys soccer team had one final shot to qualify for the NYSPHSAA Section III Class D tournament.
That last shot also happened to be Senior Day for the Eagles, the perfect source of motivation. And it paid off, as the Eagles blanked the Bishop Grimes Cobras, 2-0, Tuesday afternoon.
Eagles senior goalie Nolan Knickerbocker had a six-save clean sheet in his final home regular season start, and Nate Stiles and Ben Stull each scored one goal to provide all the offense the Eagles would need.
“We haven’t played in almost a week,” McGraw coach Jamey Crumb said. “We had about eight players last week. We literally got some players back today. They ran, they felt pretty good. For them to come out in a game like this … it was great all around.”
Stiles got the Eagles on the board in the 37th minute on a low line drive kick that Bishop Grimes goalie Greg Docos misjudged, letting the ball go as if it were going to veer wide right of goal.
As the match progressed and the Eagles were held scoreless for much of the second half, Stiles clearly did not want to settle for just the one goal. He had some clean looks at goal in the second half, including a brilliant header off a corner kick that Docos managed to snare coming right at him.
“We missed a few chances before his goal,” Crumb said. “I said he should just take them one-on-one … he was quite determined to get one.”
Stull scored his goal in the 75th minute on a penalty kick after being brought down just inside the box. It came during a stretch of highly physical play that resulted in three yellow cards and some unrest amongst the players and even the fans.
Crumb said that getting through the physicality and emotion was important with sectionals around the corner, when tensions will be higher from the outset.
“We haven’t had too many physical games this year,” Crumb said. “It’s win or go home every time now, so I kind of like that it was somewhat physical, we just can’t get too chippy.”
Knickerbocker did not have to make as many high stress saves as Docos, but Crumb says even the tough saves look easy for him.
“He makes it look effortless,” Crumb said. “Anything in the air, I have a whole lot of confidence in him.”
McGraw finished the regular season at 6-7 and is currently projected as the No. 10 seed in Class D, which would mean a road game in the first round against Mater Dei Academy in Warners. Seedings become official Sunday.
Homer at J-E, 5:30 p.m.
Cortland at J-D, 7 p.m.
S-VE at Dryden, 7 p.m.
J-D at Cortland, 7 p.m.
Mexico at Homer, 7 p.m.
Fowler at Cortland, 6 p.m.
Homer at Westhill, 6 p.m.
Marathon at Sidney, 5 p.m.
Lansing at Dryden, 4:30 p.m.
Homer 4, Cato-Meridian 0
The Trojans (6-7-1) qualified for sectionals for the first time in over 30 years thanks to two goals by Carley Calabro and one each by Sara Cargen and Molly McMasters.
Dryden 3, Moravia 0
The Lions (6-4) swept the match by scores of 25-3, 25-15 and 25-18.
Katie Spano had seven aces and four kills for the Lions, while Maggie Murphy and Ava Henry each had two aces and three kills.