OFA, Canton To Meet For Class B Soccer Title
BY DAVE SHEA
The won-loss records may not match those of past years but OFA and Canton will both be on a roll as they enter Saturday's Section 10 Class B Boys Championship game at SUNY Potsdam on Saturday at 3 p.m.
At 7-5-3 top seeded OFA remained unbeaten since the midway point of the NAC Central season with a 7-2 semi-final victory over Potsdam on Wednesday. Third seeded Canton, righted its ship at 7-7-2 after travelling through injury-laced troubled waters by shutting out Salmon River 2-0 to follow up a 3-2 win over the Shamrocks in the Bears' final game of the regular season.
In regular season matchups the Devils' and Bears tied a 5-5 and OFA took a 3-1 victory.
"Since the middle of the season we have played extremely well. But it is one game at a time, we just have to work hard to keep it going," said OFA Coach Matt Morley.
"Starting the season we knew we had some very good pieces. It was just a matter of getting the pieces in the right places."
OFA 7 - Potsdam 2: Junior Karson LaRose and senior Connor Griffith are two of the "good pieces" who have thrived since teaming up on the front line for the Devils who will take a six game-unbeaten streak into the championship. In Wednesday's semi-final game LaRose scored four goals with three in first half and Griffith delivered two goals and one assist.
"Earlier the season our team chemistry was a little off. But now it is really good. Karson LaRose and I are really playing together up front with Holden Woods and Kam Johnson in the midfield," said Griffith after enjoying a victory in his final game at the OFA turf field.
"Everyone is doing their job and it should be a good game against Canton in the finals."
Griffith opened the scoring unassisted in the seventh minute of the game by sniping home a hard shot and that started the Devils on their way to a 6-1 halftime lead.
LaRose scored the first of his three first-half goals in a scramble six minutes later controlling a service by sweeper Greg Mallott and heading it off the goaltender Ansen Herrick's hands just under the crossbar.
Three minutes later stopper Nolan O'Donnell moved forward in a well conceived rush and hammered a cross from Griffith into the net.
"When Nolan moves forward Kelson Hooper drops back. He is our defensive center halfback and Holden Woods is our offensive center halfback. They all work well together," said Coach Morley.
LaRose scored two minutes later by controlling a short through pass from Kam Johnson, pushing the ball past a defender and netting a a break-away goal. Potsdam broke through for their first goal when Romano Sergi buried a direct kick from just outside the penalty area with 12:30 remaining in the half.
The Devils answered with two goals in a span of 1:17 as LaRose scored off a through pass from Woods and Woods one-timed a corner kick by Kam Johnson into the net from close range.
Just 29 seconds into the second half LaRose directed a cross from Griffith into the net. Sergi scored Potsdam's second goal and the final goal of the game with 3:49 to play dribbling into open space and netting a low shot.
OFA goaltending combination of David Vernsey and Trent Lovely combined on seven saves and Ansen Herrick handled nine shots for Potsdam.
"I was concerned about how our chemistry would be after being off for two weeks. But we had a great start," said Coach Morley.
"Over the break we worked a lot on restarts and corner kicks and it paid off."
Canton 2, Salmon River 0: The third seeded Golden Bears advanced past the second seeded Shamrocks by scoring two second half goals to overcome a 23-10 shots deficit. Christopher Shuckers scored nine minutes after intermission unassisted and Colin Taylor converted from Owen Hall three minutes later.
Andy Downs made 12 saves for Canton and Ethan Moulton stopped five shots for Salmon River.
"I'm very proud of the kids. We played a tremendous game with a significant amount of pressure in the first half. I thought one may have broken the dam if we got it. My seniors Ethan Leduc, Charles Leduc, Clayton Jones, Tim Cook, Khyler Johnson, Raven Conners, and Phoenix Conners all had tremendous careers and we'd like to thank them. We were proud to have hosted a playoff game at the Stadium. Soccer is a cruel game. Today it didn't go our way."
MALONE SWEEPS A TITLES
In the Class A Championship games staged on Wednesday night Malone gained a sweep over Massena. The Huskie Boys and Girls both triumphed and advanced to the state tournament in 2-1 victories.