First Goal Keys Avoca Win Over Hammond
BY DAVE SHEA
HOMER - After Hammond and Avoca both enjoyed promising scoring chances in a scoreless first half it was apparent the first goal would be extremely important in Saturday's New York State Class D semi-final girls soccer game at Homer High School.
As it turned out the first goal meant virtually everything.
Avoca's talented Swiss exchange student Selina Jud broke the scoreless draw seven minutes into the second half and then scored two more in the next 16 minutes as the Section 5 Champion Tigers (20-2) used the 3-0 victory to advance to Sunday morning's state championship game against undefeated and top ranked Section 3 Champion Poland at SUNY Cortland. Poland advanced with a 5-0 win over Northville.
"They marked me but I still had some good chances and we had other chances. I am a little frustrated but I feel very good for my team. We did a great job to get this far," said Hammond senior Kelsey Bennett after her outstanding career ended in her second Final Four game.
"Their number nine was an awesome player and when she scored the the first goal it gave them a big emotional lift."
The Tigers broke through two minutes after a near miss for Hammond when Bennett controlled a deflected corner kick by Avery Kenyon lifted a shot over the crossbar.
Avoca's game winner came when Jud controlled a deflected throw-in and netted a perfectly struck 25-yard shot out of the reach of Hammond keeper Alyvia Crosby with 33:59 remaining in the game.
"What hurts is that our opportunities today we’re not taken advantage of. And I know we had more than Avoca. But Avoca took care of their's," said Hammond Coach Shawn Dack.
"If we could have gotten one I would have put Kelsey (Bennett) and Hailee (Cunningham) back to help and defend. "But didn’t happen. And that’s soccer."
Crosby (5 saves) made her best save of the game to deny short range shot by Riley Stowe with 27:22 left in the game but Stowe provided a corner kick assist for Judd who redirected the ball into the net with 24:08 remaining.
"Hammond is most physical team that we have played all year. We had to adjust to that but I thought the biggest thing is that we showed our true offensive abilities in the second half," said Avoca Coach Denelle Strong.
"We have been played teams this year with two outstanding strikers which helped us today. Hammond's strikers were very good. Faith Goodrich marked Bennett well and Jessie Miller needed to do some different things defending number 11 (Avery Kenyon) and did them all well."
Jud completed her hat trick with brilliant run out of the midfield down the center of the field. She dribbled past two defenders and broke in on goal for a successful strike while shielding another defender from the ball with 19:20 remaining in the game.
Jolien Gay finished with seven saves for Avoca and made her best stop midway through the first half with a diving deflection to deny Bennett who had turned on a ball rifled it toward the left side of the net. The Devils were extremely dangerous in the first half on re-starts creating chances off Kenyon's corner kicks and deep throw-ins by Kylie Vaugh.
Vaugh also started attack sequences with long serves from the midfield which were followed by stopper Norah Pease pressuring forward to support the overlapping midfielders. Following the game Hammond's Brooke Manning received a New York State Final Four Sportsmanship Award.
"To get to a New York State Final 4 is very amazing in itself. To have compiled the record and season at 19-2 we have is amazing in itself," said Coach Dack citing the Devils' run which they dedicated to Hammond Central's retired coach, teacher and athletic director Tom Chapman to honor his ongoing and unrelenting fight against cancer.
"It’s very hard to say goodbye to these kids. And this group as they have made this soccer season so special in so many ways on and off the field. I know we wanted to win and we dug deep for it. But these girls have already won something more important. And that will always be there for them. "
NOTE: Speaking for herself and her husband, Tom Chapman, Betty Chapman posted on facebook page. "WE ARE SO PROUD OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THE HAMMOND GIRL'S SOCCER TEAM PLUS THEIR COACHES TODAY. YOU ARE ALL GREAT CHAMPIONS IN OUR EYES."
NEW YORK STATE FINAL 4 SOCCER SCOREBOARD
Girls Class A: Pearl River (1) 0 - Spencerport (5) 0 (4-2 PK). Shoreham-Wading River (11) 1 - Jamesville De-Witt (3) 0.
Girls Class B: Pleasantville (1) 4 - Greece Olympia (5) 0, Central Valley Academy (3) 5 - Babylon (11) 1.
Girls Class C: Unatdego (4) 0 (2-1 PK) Haldane (1) 0. Stillwater (3) 3 - Marion (5) 0.
Girls Class D: Avoca (5) 3 - Hammond 0, Poland (3) 5 - Northville (2) 0.
Boys Class A: Greece Athena (5) 2 - Jamesville-DeWitt (3) 0, Jericho (8) 3 - Rye (1) 0.
Boys Class B: Skaneatles (2) 3 - Javerling/Bath (5) 1, Center Moriches (11) 0 (4-1 PK) - Schuylerville 0.
Boys Class C: Lansing (4) 4 - Kehequa (5) 0, Rinebeck (9) 1 - Voorheesville (2) 0.
Boys Class D: Mont Academy (9) 2 - Chazy (7) 1. Marathon (4) 3 - Filmore (5) 0.