With 20 minutes to play Tuesday, the top-ranked Lansing girls soccer team found itself in a very unfamiliar position — trailing its opponent.
Sam Grippo gave the 14th-ranked Spencer-Van Etten girls a 1-0 lead midway through the second half of their Section 4 Class C semifinal at Lansing. According to Bobcats coach Eric Stickel, it marked the first time all season his team fell behind.
While Grippo provided the offense, a stout defense and impenetrable goalkeeping from Morgan Price had the Bobcats frustrated.
“She was outstanding,” Stickel said. “No doubt, she kept them in the game.”
With 15:40 to play, Lansing’s Shea McCartney was taken down in the 18-yard box, and converted the subsequent penalty shot. And about 6½ minutes later, McCartney struck again immediately following an injury timeout.
The Bobcats survived, 2-1, and advanced to the title game at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta. The game will be played either Friday or Saturday, at a time to be announced later this week.
Lansing (17-0) will take on third-seeded Unatego (15-2-1), which eliminated Elmira Notre Dame.
The Bobcats will be gunning for their fifth Section 4 championship in the last seven years.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Stickel said. “It was win or go home, and they knew that if they couldn’t at least tie the game up, the season would be over. They didn’t want it to end.”
The first half ended scoreless, with Panthers keeper Price up to every Lansing challenge. S-VE (12-4-1), which shared the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School title with Marathon, broke through with 20 minutes to play as Grippo broke down the Bobcats’ three-player back line and beat Sarah Gisler (5 saves).
“We haven’t had a whole lot of real game pressure throughout the year,” said Stickel, whose team has outscored its 17 opponents by a combined 80-5. “You try to simulate it in practice, but it’s not a tangible thing. Pressure is what you make it, and the kids handled it very well.”
The game changed approximately five minutes later when McCartney, a fifth-team all-state forward last year, got tackled from behind in the penalty area. She was awarded a spot kick, and slid the ball low into the right corner as Price (19 saves) dove the other direction.
Three S-VE players were hurt and had to leave the game, and after the final injury stoppage, with about 12 minutes left, McCartney took the ball after a Lansing throw-in, quickly attacked the Panthers’ back line and beat Price.
Unatego 0, Elmira Notre Dame 0 (Unatego advances on penalty kicks, 4-3): At Elmira, the defending Class C champion Spartans (15-2-1) converted four of five penalty kick tries to advance to the title game against Lansing. The Crusaders (13-1-4) made their first two penalty kicks before missing its final two.
Trumansburg 3, Waverly 2: On an emotional night at Trumansburg, the Blue Raiders (17-1) outlasted the Wolverines by scores of 23-25, 25-18, 22-25, 25-13 and 25-17.
The match, T-burg’s first five-setter of the season, was played three days after the death of Matt McLennan, husband of head coach Angela McLennan. The team was coached by junior varsity coach Scott Miller, and rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to advance to Thursday’s pool-play semifinals at Horseheads Middle School.
Anna Shelley led the Blue Raiders with 10 kills and 19 digs, while Hayley Sherwood chipped in 15 assists and nine kills, and Chloe Mount added five kills, three aces and 18 digs.
“It was a very emotional night, not only for the players but for the fans, the coaches, anyone involved with this community,” Miller said. “And through all the negative thoughts surrounding loss, the girls rose to the occasion and were determined that it wasn’t going hold them back. They were going to honor not only their coach but her husband by playing their game and leaving it all out on the floor.”
A moment of silence was observed before the start of the match in memory of McLennan, 42, who was a special education teacher and coach for 16 years in the Trumansburg district. Blue-and-gold ribbons were handed out at the door for spectators, Miller said, and the team wore special white ribbons with hearts and the initials “MM” on them.
Waverly (14-4) was led by Jordan Raupers, who had a match-high 12 kills and added 10 assists and 13 digs.
Edison 3, Dryden 0: At Elmira Heights, the host Spartans (16-2) ousted the Purple Lions (12-3), 25-20, 25-17 and 25-22, to advance to the Class C semis. Katelyn Warren led the winners with 10 kills while Molleigh Malanoski dished out a team-high 18 assists.
Tioga 3, Deposit 0: In the Class D quarterfinals at Tioga, the top-seeded Tigers (16-1) eliminated the Lumberjacks, 25-11, 25-15 and 25-20. Lexi Swagler had a team-high five kills and Malley Bowen chipped in 14 assists and 14 service points. The Tigers advance to semifinal pool play Thursday at Horseheads Middle School.