The Susquehanna Valley boys soccer team shut out Westhill, 1-0, snapping the Warriors’ 19-game winning streak to win the Class B state regional game at Alumni Field at Norwich High School.
On a surgically repaired left leg, Sabers senior defenseman and captain Joe Stento scored the lone goal at the 26-minute mark. It was set up by a corner kick from junior Ryan Caroway that was also tipped by senior captain Mike Rood and scampered through a crowd of defenders until Stento booted it passed Westhill goalkeeper Chris Burrows.
“I just saw it coming, and knew I had to put it in the net,” said Stento. “On the way up here on the bus I (visualized) it going in. I kept picturing it going in. I did my job, and led the team.”
Stento was in the middle of most of Susquehanna Valley’s defensive efforts. Three-quarters of the way through the game, Stento volleyed with Westhill attackers, twice heading the ball out of Sabers territory. In the first half he had to be helped off the field after taking a shot to the groin.
“He played in pain all of last year,” said Susquehanna Valley coach Ted Hudock. “This year he’s worked through that, and he’s played almost every minute of every game, just nonstop, the kid is a warrior.
“Joe came back from that shot, and he played through the pain. He worked all game long. And his work, as heart and soul of the defense, was rewarded with a big-time goal today.
“Great effort top to bottom. The team really worked hard on the defensive end. That was one area where we haven’t had the complete effort and today we really came out on the defensive end, and the offense struggled a little bit, and it was the defense that picked us up.”
Senior Colin Manchester turned away nine shots for the shutout.
The myriad blocked shots and missed opportunities frustrated Westhill’s normally potent ground attack.
“We played one of our poorer first halves of they year,” said Warriors coach Tom Etoll. “We couldn’t get the ball on the ground and that’s our game. We move the ball pretty well on the ground and we could not get it on the ground today. We started to a little bit in the second half, but not to the extent that we needed to.
“They played awfully defensive in the second half, which stands to reason being up 1-0. They backed up their side of the field.”
The Sabers meet the winner of the Northeast Clinton-Ichabod Crane regional matchup in the Class B semifinals next weekend in Middletown.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Stento. “We’re going to be ready. This is a great big family here. And we’re going to do it together.”