ONEONTA _ They came into Wednesday with the lone unbeaten records in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference and left the same way.
Oneonta High and Chenango Forks played to a 1-1 Southern Tier Athletic Conference girls soccer tie on a hot, humid day at the National Soccer Hall of Fame Campus.
East Division leader Forks (7-0-1) took advantage of a rare miscue by fill-in sweeper Lauren Payne to score late in the first half. Central Division-leading OHS (9-0-1) responded early in the second half, thanks to a nifty piece of footwork by Cha Cha Naito that set up Hannah Lawson's goal.
"I think so," Yellowjackets coach Jerry Mackey said when asked if the result was fair. "It's two really good teams and I don't think it would be a surprise if we matched up later in the year in the (STAC) playoffs."
Added Forks coach Shane Cook: "It was two quality teams and a great game to watch. This is without a doubt the strongest team we've played to date."
The Blue Devils came out strong, controlling play for the first 15 minutes, but OHS turned things around midway through the first half.
OHS had a golden chance to score first, with Nora Walker and Jess McCue taking shots with about 28 1/2 minutes left in the half. Forks goalie Ashley Knox made a one-handed deflection save on Walker's 20-yard shot from the right wing and McCue shot just wide on the rebound.
Then with about a minute left in the half, OHS' Monica Jones set up for a corner kick. Forks cleared and the ball came out to Payne about 10 yards on the Yellowjackets' side of midfield.
Payne, who thwarted numerous scoring chances while filling in for the injured Lindsey Doxtader (left ankle sprain), had time but hesistated. Forks' Allie Krolyzk closed quickly on Payne, whose attempt to clear the ball forward deflected off Krolyzk and back toward the Yellowjackets' goal.
Krolyzk dribbled about 30 yards on a breakaway and when goalie Heather Graig came out to cut down the angle, Krolyzk lofted a 20-yard shot inside the right post to make it 1-0 with 50 seconds left in the half.
"We had flipped the field in the last 15 minutes of the half," Mackey said. "We had the better of 50-50s, generated legitimate chances and that ball was down at their end of the field most of the time.
"It was just an unfortunate bounce of the ball," he continued. "What I liked is at halftime I didn't see anyone pointing fingers. They all had hunker-down mindsets and said, Let's go get one.'"
It didn't take long for the Jackets to get the equalizer.
Seven minutes and 10 seconds into the second half, Naito had the ball at the right corner of the penalty box and went to work on a pair of Blue Devils defenders. A jab step followed by a crossover dribble and a touch forward got Naito free along the right baseline, where she lined a low centering pass toward the front of the goal. Lawson cut sharply down the center of the box and finished the pass inside the near post from 6 yards.
"She was in tight spaces and kept her head up and trusted her teammate would be there," Mackey said of Naito. "She laid off a great ball and to Hannah Lawson's credit, she was where she was supposed to be and finished it off."
Graig, who had seven saves, preserved the tie with 12 1/2 minutes left. Forks' Tori Matt set up for a free kick about 30 yards and Graig deflected the ball forward. Then the Blue Devils' Maria Redfern wound up for a rebound opportunity from about 10 yards, but Graig hustled out and smothered the shot.
OHS' best chance came to get the go-ahead goal came during the first of two 10-minute overtimes.
Naito lofted a pass near midfield to Jones, who was behind the Forks' defense. Jones touched the ball forward a tad too hard and Knox rushed forward to make a feet-first save about 15 yards out with 3:20 left.
Oneonta's next best chance came 12 minutes into the first half, when Walker had a rebound opportunity from close range and clanged it off the left post.
"You have to look at it realistically," Mackey said. "We had some chances to get the second one, but they had some chances, too. It's probably the way it should have been."
Mackey added that Doxstader, a Daily Star First-Team All-Star last year, should be back next week, allowing Payne to return to her midfield position.
"Lauren played exceptional back there," said Mackey, whose team was outshot, 16-14. "Lauren, Megan Brannan and Rachel Sason, those three did a great job on defense. It's a nice tie. We kept it going in the right direction and that's all you can ask."
Oneonta plays Susquehanna Valley at 7 p.m. Monday at OHS.
Oneonta 1, Chenango Forks 1
Chenango Forks1 0 0 0 _ 1
Oneonta0 1 0 0 _ 1
Chenango Forks (7-0-1): Allie Krolzyk 1-0.
Oneonta (9-0-1): Hannah Lawson 1-0, Cha Cha Naito 0-1.
Shots-corner kicks: C 16-2; O 14-2.
Goalies: Ashley Knox (C) 10; Heather Graig (O) 7.
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.