All signs pointed to a potentially difficult game for coach Adam Heck’s Lansing High boys’ soccer team.
Playing in its second consecutive Section 4 Class C championship game on Saturday, the Bobcats faced a young Greene team with nothing to lose, in frigid and wet conditions. The muddy grass pitch at the Wright National Soccer Campus complex certainly would disrupt its possession and passing game, wouldn’t it?
Not so. Senior striker Ellington Hopkins had one goal and three assists and classmate Nate McIntosh scored two goals as the top-seeded Bobcats were 4-0 winners and headed back to the state playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Lansing (19-0), which has outscored its opposition this year by a stunning 77-1, will take on the Section 3 champion — either Manlius-Pebble Hill or Fabius-Pompey — in the state regional playoffs. That game will take place Saturday; it’s scheduled to be played in Oneonta, but Heck said Sunday that he is pushing to have the game moved due to the generally sloppy conditions there.
The Class A title game between Corning (10-5-0) and Ithaca (8-6-1), which was postponed Saturday due to poor field conditions in Oneonta, will be played on Monday on Field 4 at the national soccer campus in Oneonta.
Rain and hail fell intermittingly in Saturday’s first half, making an already sloppy field even more challenging.
“Getting used to the field of play was tough,” said Heck, whose teams had played its previous two games on the synthetic turf at Tompkins Cortland Community College. “But this is where they put it and this is where we had to play. I thought we were a little bit older and more mature than them. We were opportunistic early and got up 2-0 and that third goal was huge.”
The Bobcats, ranked second in the state in Class C, struck twice in a span of 90 seconds in the first half and twice more in the space of three minutes in the second half.
The third-seeded Trojans (16-3), with only five seniors on its roster, recorded the first shot and corner of the game, but found themselves on the back foot after senior co-captain Cobi Byrne’s shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and rolled past off-balance Trojans goalie Conner Moriarity (6 saves) and into the net.
Before Greene could regain its composure, the Bobcats doubled their lead as barely a minute later, Hopkins found McIntosh with a perfectly weighted through ball. McIntosh slotted the ball home after sidestepping a pursuing defender.
Lansing was in complete control to open the second half, and made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute when Hopkins ran onto a pass by junior Alex Schutz, shrugged off a challenge from a Greene defender and sent a first-time left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the goal. Hopkins was involved in the Bobcats’ final goal just three minutes later, as his square ball across the Greene box was tracked down by McIntosh, who neatly tucked it away for a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Keeper Sam Currie made 3 saves to earn Lansing’s 18th shutout in 19 games. All but two of Lansing’s healthy players made it into the game in the last 15 minutes.
“We enjoyed this one the last 10 minutes,” said Heck, whose team fell, 1-0, to Port Jefferson in the state semifinals a year ago. “Certainly we have some unfinished business from last season, and with the adjustments we made all year, putting kids in different spots, something has to be said about this group of young men. They’ve really, really performed every day the way we hoped.”