It took a few days to decide, but as it turns out, the road to redemption for the Lansing High boys soccer team passes through Norwich.
After a few days of uncertainty regarding where they would open play in the state Class C playoffs, the two-time defending Section 4 champion Bobcats will take on Section 3 survivor Fabius-Pompey at 3 p.m. Saturday at Norwich High School.
The winner will advance to the state semifinals, scheduled for the morning of Nov. 17 at Middletown High School, with the championship game slated for the following day at 10 a.m on the school’s turf field at Faller Stadium.
Lansing (19-0), ranked second in the state in Class C, is in search of its first state title in boys soccer. It came within a couple of games of that title last year, but lost, 1-0, to Section 11’s Port Jefferson in the state semifinals at Middletown.
With top-ranked Port Jefferson already eliminated, the Bobcats won’t be able to return the favor. But that will undoubtedly matter little to coach Adam Heck’s squad, which has shown an uncanny level of discipline this season. It has allowed just a single goal, while scoring 77.
The Bobcats’ only goal given up came on Oct. 5 in a 2-1 overtime victory at Trumansburg.
Four of those goals scored for Lansing came in last Saturday’s Section 4 Class C championship game at Oneonta’s Wright National Soccer Campus complex where, despite a muddy pitch, the top-seeded Bobcats made things look easy in a shutout over third-seeded Greene. Senior Nate McIntosh scored twice and classmate Ellington Hopkins added a goal and three assists. Senior goalie Sam Currie was rarely called upon after the opening 15 minutes.
A year ago, sophomore Benji Geisler’s goal early in the second half was enough to hand Lansing a 1-0 victory over Tully in the state regional round at Morrisville State College and a pass into the final four. Geisler, along with senior all-state striker Ethan Kutler, did not return to the Bobcats this season, foregoing high school soccer to take part in an academy program.
In their absence, senior midfielders Cobi Byrne and Spencer Warkentin have seen increased roles in Heck’s possession-oriented scheme, as has classmate Woojin Richardson, a reserve on Lansing’s 2011 team. Byrne scored on two long strikes to hand his team a 2-0 victory over Watkins Glen in the sectional semifinals 10 days ago.
Meanwhile, Lansing’s opponent Saturday is making its first trip to the state tournament since 2008 thanks to a 1-0 overtime victory Tuesday over Manlius Pebble Hill. Senior Nick Randall scored the winner on a 27-yard direct free kick at 9:20 of overtime.
The Falcons (17-2) are ranked seventh in Class C and boast an impressive defensive record, shutting out every one of its Section 3 playoff opponents en route to the title.