FREEDOM PLAINS – Ryan Wilson approached Giuliano Santucci when it was all over.
The two goalies hugged and shook hands respectfully after the battle that had just taken place. Wilson then walked back towards his teammates on the Arlington High School boys soccer team, who were celebrating their first Section 1 Class AA championship since 2013 and their 15th in program history.
Arlington, the top seed, knocked off seventh-seeded Yorktown 1-0 to claim victory Saturday and capture its third section title in four years and 15th in program history.
“We did everything we could and came out on top,” said Wilson, who made nine saves in his 17th shutout of the season. “I can’t even put it into words. We’ve wanted this and we were so hungry for this all year, and it’s finally here. It means so much more beating a team like Yorktown. They played so hard.”
The Admirals receive a first-round bye in the New York State regional tournament and advance to the region finals. They will take on either Section 9’s Monroe-Woodbury or Section 4’s Ithaca on Saturday at Lakeland in Shrub Oak.
Renewing the dynasty was a goal of the Admirals coming in, being that Arlington was eliminated by Fox Lane in last year’s quarterfinals. However, the Admirals had to withstand a physical match with Yorktown to do it, and play steady defense in order to win.
Of course that defense came with just one necessary shot on offense. With 24:50 left in the first half, Vinny Colantuono drew a foul. He booted the ball past Santucci on the penalty kick for the game’s lone goal.
“I know Giuliano is a great keeper,” Colantuono said. “When I saw they called the penalty, I really just wanted to help my team out. I just put the ball down, I didn’t look up, took my time and stayed focused. I really just wanted to make our community proud and my school proud and I’m glad it went in.”
The game took on a defensive life of its own from there, as both the Admirals and Huskers limited each other’s offensive chances. It also became a physical showdown. George Pogyo was issued a yellow card, then got booked for a red card. With 18:18 left, Yorktown played a man up.
“I think this is one of those matches that anybody would say it wasn’t pretty,” said Arlington coach Craig Sanborn, whose Admirals improved to 19-1. “It was one of those grind it out wins where we got the early goal, then after that it was two very good teams with two big hearts just battling each other.
“We were fortunate enough in the end going down a man and hanging tough. These boys grinded it out for the win.”
Sanborn said his entire defensive front stepped up — a thought echoed by junior defender Will Kautsky.
“We just kept our marks and always made sure everyone was marked up,” Kautsky said. “We had great communication together and just it was just hard work, all-around.”
Now that the Admirals have won, they look forward to a run for the state championship. Arlington last won a New York State title in 2012.
“We’ve got to get back to practice, keep working hard,” Colantuono added. “Regional finals are going to be hard, but we can do it.”
Arlington hasn’t faced Ithaca this year, but beat Monroe-Woodbury 1-0 on Sept. 26.
“We did see (Monroe-Woodbury) early on in the year and I’m sure they’re a very different team than when we saw them, just as we’re a very different team as well,” Sanborn said. “Don’t know who we’re going to face, so we’ll sit back and wait and see.”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports