MIDDLETOWN – From the opening minute of Sunday’s Class C boys soccer state final, Noah Dunn and Solomon Schechter were under siege.
The Lions made it through three previous state playoff games without allowing a goal, but Notre Dame of Elmira proved that it was on another level. The Crusaders peppered Dunn with shots throughout the game — one of which broke the junior goalkeeper’s thumb — on their way to a remarkable 9-1 win for the championship.
If not for 15 gutsy saves from Dunn, the final tally could have been even more lopsided.
“I think I was playing pretty well, but you really have to hand it to them,” Dunn said. “They kept coming at you. I made a couple of nice saves, and it didn’t matter. They kept putting it down my throat and it was too much for us.”
Notre Dame began the game with a flurry, forcing Dunn to make five saves in the opening 10 minutes. The Crusaders (22-0) kept coming, with Alec Cutler scoring in the eighth and 11th minutes to open up the floodgates.
Schechter kept the halftime deficit at 3-0 after Rocco Coulibaly’s goal in the 27th minute, but Notre Dame was relentless in the second half, leaving most of its starters in until the final 10 minutes. The Warriors put a lofty total of 27 shots on goal.
Dunn exited the game after suffering his thumb injury on the sixth goal in the 61st minute.
“They were the best team in C and they proved why today,” Dunn said. “Their whole offense was extremely fast. But we’ve been good all season and you really have to hand it to them because we’ve been lockdown in the state playoffs and obviously they cracked us today.”
Few expected Schechter (13-5-2) to reach the state final — its first ever appearance — and the Lions could be back next year with more than half of their starters returning.
Seniors Noam Goldberg and Daniel Kohen will be among the keys players that need to be replaced after leaving an undeniable mark on the program.
“As much as they’re impressive, I think our team is impressive,” Goldberg said. “We’ve accomplished more than anyone in the stands and anyone I know thought we would accomplish. I’m proud of us, no matter what happened.”