At around the 4-minute mark of overtime, Lansing junior midfielder Luke Field made a determined run up the left side and put a nice ball in the box for senior Ben Kutler, who wasn’t quite able to finish it.
The same situation presented itself just over three minutes later, but a funny thing happened when Field played the ball in the box, hoping for a teammate to get on the end of it.
Instead of finding a teammate’s foot, the ball found the back of the net.
“I was just trying to hit it into the box and hoping someone would finish it, but anything to get the win,” said Field, whose left-footed cross swerved past Greene goalkeeper Jacob Ledford and in with 7:27 to play in the first OT period, giving the Bobcats a 2-1 victory in the Section 4 Class C boys’ soccer semifinals at windswept Sobus Field in Lansing.
Lanky junior defender Karsten Zuidema also scored for the second-seeded Bobcats (16-1-1), who advance to Saturday’s championship game at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta. Lansing, ranked eighth in the state, will face top-seeded and third-ranked Elmira Notre Dame (17-0); game time was still to be determined as of Thursday evening.
The Crusaders ousted Trumansburg on Wednesday, 9-0, in their semi to set up a rematch of last year’s sectional title game, won by Notre Dame, 2-0.
Junior midfielder Kevin Halsteter sent the game to overtime with a 45-yard blast that caromed in off the crossbar with 5:09 to go in regulation for third seed Greene (15-2-0), the champion of the Midstate Athletic Conference. Keeper Ledford finished with five saves, including a couple of game-saving stops late in regulation and early in overtime.
Chris Robinson made eight saves to earn the win for Lansing, which outshot Greene by a 16-14 margin. The Trojans took the game’s only two corner kicks.
On a slippery pitch following Wednesday’s torrential rain, the 17th-ranked Trojans gave the host Bobcats all they could handle for more than 87 minutes, but that came as no surprise to Lansing coach Adam Heck.
“We knew Greene was a great team, they’ve got some great players,” said Heck, who noted that a couple of Trojan players attended a Lansing soccer camp as youngsters.
“There’s a lot of respect for the Greene program, they’ve always been good,” he said. “Everyone was talking about a rematch with Notre Dame, and I said, ‘Guys, you can’t even think about that. You’ve got a really, really good team to play today,’ so we’re really happy to move on.”
For the first 15 minutes or so, Greene controlled the bulk of the play but didn’t get many quality chances. And against the run of play, Lansing struck first, thanks to Kutler, the team’s catalyst in the midfield.
Using his speed, Kutler carried the ball toward the box and was taken down just outside the penalty area. His resultant free kick banged off the crossbar and right to a charging Zuidema, who chested it down and deposited it past a helpless Ledford with 17:02 left in the half.
The game wasn’t the most beautifully played, as the poor field conditions slowed both teams, but the Trojans began to turn the tables late in regulation as their season hung in the balance. Finally, seemingly out of nowhere, Halsteter unleashed a laser from near midfield, and a leaping Robinson couldn’t get a hand on the ball as it caromed off the crossbar and down into the goal.
“We just had trouble,” Heck said. “They were pressing us the last 15 or 20 minutes, and I was saying, ‘Guys, if you don’t start getting the ball in the air on your clears, they’re going to get one.’ And that’s what happened.”
Both teams had golden opportunities to take the lead toward the end of regulation. Greene senior Luke Day took a floating centering feed on the run and nearly one-timed it past Robinson, but the Lansing keeper was positioned perfectly and made a comfortable save with about eight minutes left.
Then in the final 30 seconds, Lansing’s Matt Hulsebosch struck from about 8 yards out, but Ledford got a hand on the ball. It banged off the crossbar and back to the keeper, who covered up and cleared just before the horn sounded.
Early in overtime, Kutler made a brilliant run, beating three Greene defenders and coming nearly face-to-face with Ledford. Kutler’s first shot caromed off a defender, then off the crossbar and back to him. Kutler shot again from close range, but Ledford smothered it as the Lansing faithful groaned.
Those groans turned to cheers with Field’s game-winner, which sends Lansing back to Oneonta, tasked with knocking off the seemingly invincible Crusaders. In 17 games, they’ve scored 158 goals — six shy of the state record, set by Oneonta in 1999 — while allowing just three.
“We’ve got to play a lot better than we did today,” Heck said. “We have to just do a little bit better job of keeping the ball, because the more you keep giving Notre Dame the ball, the more opportunity they have. Notre Dame’s a great team, and we’re excited to have another chance at them.”
The game is also a rematch of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Large School final two weeks ago, won by Notre Dame, 5-0. The game was close till the Crusaders ran off four goals in a 16-minute span late in the game to pull away.
“We want to keep it to within a goal either way, and put them in a position they haven’t been in all year,” he said. “That’s hard to do, but I think we’re a team that can do it.”