By Dean Russin
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — Another year, another tie.
It’s not Father’s Day. This is the Delaware League girls soccer championship game.
Cora Bruno’s unassisted goal with 3 minutes left Saturday capped the scoring in the 2012 crossover at the Wright National Soccer Campus as Upper Delaware Division champion Margaretville played Mountain Division winner Downsville to a 2-2 tie.
The result marked the fourth straight tie in the DL final, which ended after regulation for the third consecutive season. Downsville and Davenport failed to score in the 2011 final, which followed consecutive Davenport-Gilboa deadlocks of 1-1 in 2010 and 2-2 in overtime in 2009.
“It’s better than a loss,” said Bruno, who stepped into the middle of a scrum at the far post and poked the ball past grounded Downsville keeper Katie Lawrence to secure Margaretville’s fifth crossover tie and first since 1999.
Tess Svoboda engineered the final scoring drive with a restart from the left side of the 18-yard box, sending a high liner to the far post. Raeann Bond outjumped the rest of the pack for a header that Lawrence initially stuffed.
“The ball came in between two people and I came out, grabbed it and went down to the ground,” said Lawrence, who went 1-for-2 in penalty-kick situations and finished with four saves. “Then a foot came in. So I had possession, but … we’re still division (and league) champions, but I would much rather have it all to myself,” she continued. “I was just mad at that goal.”
The Eagles (12-0-3) jumped to a 1-0 lead 3:02 into the crossover thanks to a hard cross from Kaileen Townsend. Using skillful cuts to beat three defenders, Townsend worked her way toward the lower-left corner of the 18-yard box and drove a perfect cross to the middle of the 6-yard box.
Margaretville defender Kaitlin Short ended up being in the right place at the wrong time, though, as the ball ricocheted off her mid-section past goalie Alexiss Molnar (seven saves).
“A few minutes in and we’re down and we have to recover from that?” Margaretville coach Toni Smith said. “I’m absolutely relieved we ended up with a tie. I’m very happy about that.”
The Blue Devils (11-3-2) bounced back in the 17th minute, when Elia Tanzer penetrated the left side of Downsville’s box and was tripped up by defender Taylor Morris. That led to a penalty kick for Tanzer, whose strong shot into the left side of the net didn’t fool Lawrence but was fast enough to beat her full-extension dive.
The Eagles regained the lead 10:28 into the second half on a Hail Mary of sorts by Kendra Lacey. Alone for a second from about 30 yards out, Lacey avoided oncoming defenders with a high pop fly that caught the wind at its apex. Molnar misjudged the knuckling shot and high-fived it backwards with her right hand as the ball spun in under the crossbar.
About 13½ minutes later, Tanzer broke into the middle of the 18-yard box and drew another penalty kick when Morris crashed into her.
“The second one, I thought she was going left again, but I reacted,” said Lawrence, who leaned to her right but stayed put to stop a high, dead-center shot. “I can react pretty quickly.”
Margaretville took three straight shots — including one by Tanzer that Lawrence stopped at point-blank range — before Bruno scored the equalizer.
“I don’t even know what happened down there,” said Downsville coach Burt Reed, whose program also tied Davenport, 2-2, for the 2006 DL crown and won outright titles in 2007 (3-0 over Davenport) and 2005 (6-0 over Margaretville). “(Lawrence) is a little upset. She said she had her hands on it and it got knocked out.”
Lawrence said Bruno’s goal should actually help Downsville in the Section Four Class D Tournament, which opens Wednesday.
“I think that’s going to make us play 10 times harder,” she said.
The Eagles have a first-round bye as the top seed and will host No. 9 Davenport (10-5) or No. 8 Cherry Valley-Springfield (10-3-2) at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday. Should Downsville win its quarterfinal, it could see Margaretville again in a Halloween semifinal.
The Blue Devils open tournament play at home against No. 12 Gilboa (7-5-1). The winner of that 3:30 p.m. Wednesday game advances to a quarterfinal against No. 13 Edmeston (7-7-1) or No. 4 Morris (12-1-3) — the defending sectional champion.
“I’ve heard they’re a pretty good team,” Bruno said of Morris, which played Milford to a scoreless tie in the Tri-Valley League final Saturday at the WNSC. “But I think we could put up a pretty good fight.”
Dean Russin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.