A few weeks ago, it wasn’t a certainty that the Owego girls lacrosse team would even qualify for postseason play.
But now, the Indians are one victory away from a second straight Section 4 Class C title, one they hope to secure when they meet Chenango Forks in the title game at 4 p.m. Thursday at Maine-Endwell High School. The game kicks off a tripleheader of Sectional title games at M-E, with Vestal and Horseheads vying for the Class B title at 6, followed by the Corning/Ithaca contest for the Class A title at 8.
Owego (8-9) had to win three of its last five games just to qualify for the Section 4 Class C playoffs, finally securing a berth with a 13-8 victory at Forks on May 6. The fifth seed in the five-team bracket, Owego defeated Johnson City in an opening-round game before surprising top-seeded Maine-Endwell, 7-6, in the semifinals on Tuesday.
“Since mid-April, we really started to play well together and put some good games together in a row,” said Owego coach Jason Westervelt, who acknowledged the team’s fortunes improved following a mid-season callup of several JV players. “We lost to some very good teams earlier in the season, we added teams like Ithaca and Carthage (of Section 3), it was a very tough schedule but that’s helped us for this time of year.”
Westervelt doesn’t lean on one particular player, instead relying on a balanced squad that has had the knack of different players stepping up on different occasions. On Tuesday, that was Brittany Hathaway, who scored four goals in the victory over M-E.
Forks (9-6), meanwhile, is participating in its first Section 4 title game in the program’s 11-year history. The Blue Devils feature five freshmen starters, including dynamic midfielder Brooke Maietta, who has tallied 67 goals and 31 assists. Sophomore attack Hanna Layton (46 goals-11 assists) has been a significant contributor along with junior goalie Makenzie O’Brien has had a fine season with 134 saves.
Vestal (14-1) seeks its fourth straight Section 4 Class B title when it squares off against Horseheads (9-5). The Golden Bears own a pair of decisive victories over the Blue Raiders this season, winning 18-5 at home on March 31 and 18-9 at Horseheads on April 22.
Leading the way for Vestal is senior Tomasina Leska. The owner of nearly every significant scoring record in program history, the Cornell University-bound Leska has 56 goals and 66 assists this season.
Horseheads (9-5) will counter with a squad led by the trio of junior Crystal Powers (41 goals-22 assists); sophomore Tatum Benesh (44 goals, 78 draw controls) and junior Mia Strollo (23 goals-7 assists).
Defending champion Ithaca (7-8) meets Corning (9-5) in a rematch of the 2013 Class A final, that won by the Hawks, 13-11. The Little Red are led by Lauren Duthie and Juliette Miettunen, the later tallying three goals and an assist in Ithaca’s 12-9 victory over Binghamton in last year’s Class A title game.
Corning’s leading scorers are Sara Grapevine and Morgan Hogue. Midfielder Lauren Ford has also enjoyed a good season.