Still undefeated and still looking to repeat as state Class B champions, the Schalmont girls soccer team passed one of the biggest obstacles in its path.
Marcellus – a three-time state champion (including 2003 and ‘04) and frequent visitor to the state final four – made the Sabres work all the way to the final horn before Schalmont prevailed 2-1 in Tuesday night’s regional playoff opener at Fulton High School.
Schalmont (20-0-0) won mostly on the basis of a quick-strike attack and a stifling defense that, with one late exception, rarely let the Mustangs get many close-up looks.
Despite the chilly temperatures, Schalmont was hot right from the opening kickoff, forcing the action on Marcellus and earning a series of quick corner kicks.
It was one of those corners that, 1:43 into the game, pushed the Sabres in front to stay. Alexandra Cardinal’s cross bounced around the crease until Allie Gallo pounded it past Marcellus goalie Margaret Choroser into the net.
All of this was part of an early flurry where Schalmont had most of the possession and kept the ball in the Mustangs’ end. Though Marcellus settled down and didn’t allow any more goals, the lack of any real push made the Sabres’ 1-0 margin seem much larger.
Schalmont maintained that control in the second half, keeping the ball in the midfield and patiently waiting for an opening. The opening came in the 48th minute when Diana DiCocco beat Choroser off a turnover to make it 2-0.
Several minutes after DiCocco scored, Sabres goalie Taylor Gould made her best save of the night, stopping Marcellus’ Brielle Filtch from point-blank range.
Gould didn’t see a lot of shots heading her way as defenders Isabella Borini, Hailee Metzold, Kennedy Cronk and Jessica Barnett remained disciplined and turned back most of the Mustangs’ runs.
When Filtch broke through the defense and scored with 9:13 left, the Sabres maintained their poise. Schalmont regained possession of the ball down the stretch and kept the ball in the Mustangs’ end to prevent any chance at a tying goal.
Schalmont still has one more regional game to win on Saturday against the Section VII/X champion in order to return to the state Class B final four on Nov. 16-17 in the Cortland/Homer area.
Schalmont won its second consecutive Section II title last Saturday by beating Broadalbin-Perth 4-0 at Stillwater High School. The Sabres scored three times in the first half to take control, and goaltender Gabrielle Juers stopped 10 shots to pick up the shutout.
DiCocco led the way with two goals, while Gallo and Rachael Gac each contributed a goal and an assist for Schalmont.