Monday, October 11, 2010

A clean sweep: Maple Hill's boys and girls soccer teams post shutouts to win own tournament

CASTLETON — Two of Section II’s premier girls soccer teams met in Monday’s championship game of the Maple Hill Fall Sports Tournament, and Maple Hill’s Meeghan Arno said it all as she walked off the field with head coach Shelia Golden.

“Sweet revenge.”

The Wildcats scored twice in the game’s first 11 minutes en route to a 3-0 victory over Cambridge at Maple Hill Middle School. It was the first time the teams had played each other since they met in the 2009 Section II Class CC semifinals, a game which Cambridge won, 4-3, in the second overtime.

Maple Hill players congratulate Sierra Legge (8) after she scored the first goal in Monday's championship game against Cambridge. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

“It’s great to play higher-level teams at this point in our season so we can prepare for sectionals,” said Arno, a senior striker who scored a pair of goals in the game. “And we know that we actually can step up and play at a higher level and beat the higher-level teams.”

Arno, who also tallied three goals in a first round victory over Albany High, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player.

Maple Hill's Meeghan Arno (20) battles for the ball with Cambridge's Sandra Andrews (8) during Monday's championship game. Arno, Maple Hill's all-time leading scorer, scored a pair of goals. (Carras photo - The Record).

Maple Hill (10-0-0, 12-0-0), ranked No. 13 in the latest New York State Class B poll, received its first goal off a direct kick by senior captain Sierra Legge in the eighth minute.

“Normally I cross it for somebody else to finish, but my coach told me yesterday that I should start shooting myself,” Legge said. “With her advice, I went for it.”

Cambridge's Alexi Howland leaps to head the ball between Maple Hill's Sierra Legge (8) and Alysha Cross (15). (Carras photo - The Record).

Arno scored three minutes after that on an assist from Taylor Czajkowski and added her third tally on an assist from Legge six minutes into the second half.

Sierra Legge was all smiles after Monday's game, in which she scored the first goal off a direct kick. (Will Montgomery photo - The Record).

Czajkowski injured her left knee in the second half and did not return, but the Wildcats are hopeful she will return to action soon. In fact, Maple Hill is already dealing with a great deal of injuries and sickness, which forced some team members to shift positions drastically in Monday’s game.

Maple Hill senior striker Meeghan Arno is the leading goal-scorer in Section II this season. (Montgomery photo - The Record).

Somer Connolly, typically a midfielder, was pulled back to defend Cambridge’s leading scorer Bridget Cuddihy.

“She did a marvelous job on her,” Golden said. “She (Cuddihy) is a left-footer, and Somer forced her to use her right foot, left her when she should have, stepped to her when she should have and made good decisions.”

"Every girl on the team can play anywhere on the field," Legge said. "We have a lot of flexibility with this team. We’re all just really close and come to work together hard."

"Our defense and midfielders have been outstanding so far this year," Arno said. "Erin Mosher back there in midfield, as sweeper, she really stepped up. That’s not her position at all, whatsoever, but she’s been playing really well this year."

Cambridge’s Iris Collins was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Cambridge (7-2-1, 8-3-1) was No. 15 in the latest Class C poll.

Maple Hill has had to host Patroon Conference teams in the tournament in the past because the New York State Public High School Athletic Association cut regular season schedules back to just 16 games. Now that Ichabod Crane defected to the Colonial Council, a pair of non-league dates were opened up for the Wildcats, who played a Class AA Albany High team and a tough Cambridge team that is sure to be a factor in the Section II Class C playoffs this season. Maple Hill, however, won't be running into the Indians again this postseason, as they have been classified in the Bs in 2010.

"This is great, because last year we didn’t get to play outside of our league at all," Golden said. "I think mentally that takes your team down. Nothing against the rest of our league, but there is something about playing the unknown, playing something different. These girls (Cambridge) play in a league where they’re banging at each other every day. They play Hoosick Falls, Stillwater. They play Schuylerville. They’re used to working hard all the time for every single win. It was good for us to play Albany and have these guys here where they take it to us a little more physical and stepped hard to the ball."

Maple Hill's Sierra Legge gets ready to blast her goal-scoring kick in the first half of Monday's game. (Montgomery photo - The Record).

In the consolation game, Catholic Central (2-1-1, 7-3-1) defeated Albany High (0-4-0, 1-8-0) nine minutes into the first overtime, 1-0, on a goal from Aja Evans. The two teams meet again today in Big 10 Conference action.

Girls championship game
Cambridge (7-2-1, 8-3-1) 0 0 — 0
Maple Hill (10-0-0, 12-0-0) 2 1 — 3
Scoring: MH: Arno 2-1, Legge 1-1, Czajkowski 0-1.
Goalie saves: C: Hall, 5. MH: Briggs, 6.
Corner kicks: C: 2. MH: 1.

Maple Hill boys also victorious

Maple Hill boys soccer head coach Dan Gillespie had summoned Ryan Smith off the bench to spell Paul Ancin with under 20 minutes to play in Monday’s championship game against Johnstown, but was certainly glad he didn’t pull Ancin too early.

Ancin, a junior forward, headed in the game-winning goal off a free kick by teammate Steve Sepowski with 16:38 remaining in regulation, lifting the Wildcats to a 1-0 victory.

Maple Hill High School head coach Dan Gillespie (left) congratulates Paul Ancin just seconds after he had scored the go-ahead and ultimate game-winning goal in Monday's game against Johnstown. (Montgomery photo - The Record).

“We had a lot of opportunities to score,” Ancin said. “The last game against Cobleskill, we had so many shots and only had one goal. This game, we had a lot of shots and we only had one goal. My teammate Steve, he set me up perfectly and I headed it in.”

Maple Hill outshot its opponents 43-8 in the tournament’s two games, but only outscored them 2-0.

“As soon as he finished the celebration, somebody on the field said, ‘Paul, you’re off. We got a sub for you,” joked senior Pat Curtain. “So he was gone.”

Maple Hill senior Pat Curtain was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the tournament, leading the Wildcats to a pair of 1-0 shutout victories. (Montgomery photo - The Record).

Maple Hill (8-0-0, 10-0-0) was ranked No. 6 in the latest New York State Class B poll. Johnstown’s (4-4-0, 5-5-0) Matt Sagan was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player.

"People have the impression of us that it’s just Steve Sepowksi," said Curtain. "As impressive as he is, and his stats show it, everybody else on the team is working really hard to back him up and show that we’re more than a one-dimensional team."

Tamarac (2-3-3, 3-4-3) posted a 2-1 victory over Cobleskill-Richmondville (2-7-0, 2-9-0) in the consolation game.

Maple Hill junior forward Paul Ancin scored the game-winning goal although his head coach was looking to substitute for him just minutes before he scored the goal. (Montgomery photo - The Record).

Curtain, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, leads the Maple Hill defense alongside fellow captain Matt Palmer. As the Wildcats’ offense continues to struggle to put goals in the net, the team is still proud the defense is doing more than its share.

"To beat a team with a tradition like this and comes from a school where soccer is this important, it’s huge," said Curtain. "You can’t beat this environment with all these people out here. That boosts you up a lot. And coming out of here with a win, that’s just icing on top." 

“If people don’t score on you, you can’t lose games,” Ancin said. “It’s a really nice feeling when you can say that about yourself that you shut out a really good team like Johnstown.”

Maple Hill players - and their ballboy - look on from midfield during Monday's championship game against Johnstown. (Montgomery photo - The Record).

For a small school such as Maple Hill, which doesn't field a football team, soccer is king. And the big crowd that came out to watch the games on Columbus Day certainly proved that Castleton and Schodack are great sports towns that support their teams.

"I have my friends who play soccer and they don’t have half of the fan base that we have," Curtain said. "To see this come out for soccer, which isn’t necessarily a mainstream sport yet, it’s incredible to come from a school like this. I couldn’t ask for anything better, especially on a weekend like this.

"It’s a sport-oriented town," continued Curtain. "When you can play on a team this good and play in a town that cares about it this much. You can’t ask for anthing more. It’s incredible."

"This is pretty much our main sport because boys soccer at Maple Hill has always been really good and we have to keep it up," said Ancin.

Boys championship game
Johnstown (4-4-0, 5-5-0) 0 0 — 0
Maple Hill (8-0-0, 10-0-0) 0 1 — 1
Scoring: MH: Ancin 1-0, Sepowski 0-1.
Goalie saves: J: Simon, 5. MH: VanAlstyne, 0.
Corner kicks: J: 1. MH: 1.

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