Arcadia in OT
By: Chamberlain Bauder
GREECE, N.Y. --- The Greece Arcadia boys’ soccer team defeated their cross-town rivals Greece Athena in overtime for the first round of sectionals. Arcadia was seeded #8 in their class, hosting the 9 seed for the closest matchup in class AA. Neither team found the back of the net during regulation. Seven minutes into the first overtime period the volume of pressure from Arcadia was overwhelming and they won in a scrum in front of the goal.
“It’s always a great rivalry when we play Athena,” Greece Arcadia head coach Matt Vergamini said about hosting the Trojans for the opening round of sectionals. “Two very evenly matched teams this year I mean we split during the regular season. We knew it was going to be a battle and it came down to it.”
Arcadia’s defensive four was the focal point for the Titans. Aidan Byrnes and Thuhtoo Lamin had their work cut out for them as the central defensive pairing, they answered the call time and time again with slide tackles and clearances. At holding midfield, Benjamin Mitzler was a powerhouse. He stood tall on standing tackles over and over and led to most of the Titans offenses chances with his forward passing.
“We had the home field advantage with the crowd,” Mitzler said about hosting Athena. “This is the best way to start as a senior. In the end you’re playing your cross-town rivals, at sectionals. Send them home we move on.”
For The Trojans, it was sophomore goalie Ryan Schumacher who had the defensive answers. His last line of defense was Mazi McCraw at center defense. Schumacher made save after save with a massive swing at the beginning of the first half where he had five saves in less minutes.
“We had a good run of play in that period of time, and he (Schumacher) really stepped up for his team and kept his team in it and gave them a chance,” Vergamini said. “He played very well tonight.”
As the opening whistle sounded The Trojans appeared to be the team to beat. Despite the slight underdog position the road team was in control of the ball through the midfield, led by senior Adam Piendel. The Trojans were able to hold that pressure for only a short time as Arcadia had the first three offensive place kicks, one corner and two free kicks. The Titans utilized the long ball to extend play. While Athena could dominate the midfield, Arcadia looked to avoid it in their attack completely.
“We know that our wings can run into the corner and put a cross in or pass it back to a mid and it’s pretty much what we do all game,” Byrnes said.
Arcadia was able to put up more shots over the game than Athena however the Titans action often came in spurts. They would put in five or more shots in a five-minute span before Athena was able to repossess in the midfield. Once Athena had the ball, they simply could not break the back four of Arcadia, but they were able to maintain possession and so the teams went into half tied 0-0.
The second half started with the biggest chance of the entire game for the Titans aside from their OT winner. In a five-minute span Arcadia put in their five most clinical shots of the entire game. Schumacher made the save every time, the first was a leap to the cross bar to stop a longball from dropping in. He then made the follow up save off the rebound. On the ensuing corner Arcadia was able to set up in the offensive third once again. This time Schumacher went back-to-back to back this time for a triple save to keep the deadlock.
Once the game hit its last 20 minutes of regulations the feeling of extra time started to set in. despite Arcadia’s spurts, they did not truly look poised to score while Athena had not taken more than one meaningful shot all game. Once again, the teams went into the break at 0-0.
Overtime was not a mirror image of regulation play. Arcadia came out with a fire in overtime. They fully committed to the long ball and knew to avoid possession in midfield. Every time they got the ball, they sent it to their back line. From there they sent a long pass into a corner and allowed their wings to continue playing higher and higher until all the pressure had mounted seven minutes into the extra frame.
“Penalties can be really stressful for all of us and it’s just great because we can have some rest now,” Byrnes said about his team’s finish.
With two men in front of net, Arcadia was able to get the ball free from the Athena defense. The first shot dropped off a defender and right back into play. Before they could stop him, Gary Cooper slotted a grounder into the bottom right corner. Schumacher was sprawled out but couldn’t reach the ball as he was positioned for the original shot. Arcadia won 7:51 into overtime.
“As underdogs we have nothing to lose, as seniors too,” Mitzler said. “Play our hardest out there and leave nothing on the field. Just play our hearts out.”
The Titans head into the next round of sectionals as the underdogs. on Friday they take on top seeded Spencerport.