The Daily Star
---- — All hail the Tri-Valley League’s West Division.
Fourth-seeded Morris and third-seeded Franklin earned shutout victories in Section Four Class D girls soccer semifinals Wednesday at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta.
The defending sectional champion Mustangs (15-1-3) knocked off top-seeded Downsville, 3-0, and the Purple Devils (15-2) downed second-seeded Marathon, 2-0.
That sets up a third meeting between the TVL West Division rivals Saturday back at the WNSC with the Section Four Class D title at stake. The time of the game has not been announced.
The teams split two meetings this season, with Morris winning, 2-1, at Franklin before the Purple Devils handed the Mustangs their lone defeat with a 1-0 win at Morris.
“The Tri-Valley was tough this year,” said Morris coach Rhoda Flint, whose team won the West Division title before tying Milford in the crossover final, 0-0. “We had Milford, and even Gilbertsville-Mount Upton and Edmeston were tough games. Every game was a battle. We didn’t walk through any game. By having a year like that, it has only made my team better.”
Added Franklin coach J.J. Laing: “We’re pretty strong. Both teams are pretty strong. I think all the games we had to play in our league, and not just against each other but both sides of the league, prepared us for this game.”
The Section Four Class D semifinals in boys soccer also were scheduled for Wednesday, but those games were moved to today at the WNSC.
Fourth-seeded Margaretville (15-0-3) will oppose top-seeded Elmira Notre Dame (14-2) and third-seeded Cherry Valley-Springfield (17-1) will face No. 2 Marathon (14-2). Both games are scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
The winners of those games will play in the sectional final Saturday at the WNSC. The game time for the final hasn’t been set.
Margaretville coach Jeremey Marks and CV-S coach Terri Adams said they didn’t know why the games were moved.
The Patriots are the defending Section Four Class D champions.
Morris 3, Downsville 0
Freshman Liana Garry and Alexis Forgit scored goals in the first eight minutes, and Emily Leboffe contributed a second-half goal for the Mustangs, who ended Downsville’s season for the second straight season.
Garry scored on a rebound 4 minutes, 10 seconds into play. Kelsea Webster took an initial shot that was saved by Katie Lawrence, but Garry kicked in the rebound from 6 yards.
Forgit made it 2-0 at the 8-minute mark. Downsville failed to clear a corner kick, which eventually made its way to Forgit on the right side. Forgit scored inside the left post.
“It was very nice,” Flint said of her team’s fast start. “Something we’ve struggled with this season is finishing. Having Liana Garry, a freshman, she has come forward and really stepped up. All year long, we’ve been missing a lot of opportunities. In a game like this, to get the first goal really played into our hands. I don’t think Downsville has been scored on a lot, so it was good to do that.”
Despite the two-goal advantage, Flint said the first half was evenly played. Downsville, co-champions of the Delaware League after a 2-2 with Margaretville in the crossover final, trailed in shots, 6-5, after the opening 40 minutes.
“It wasn’t our best half,” Flint said. “We were a step behind. We left them too much room to serve the ball. We weren’t playing our game. We were just kicking the ball around.”
That changed in the second half as the Mustangs outshot the Eagles, 12-1. They also had nine corners after halftime.
“We controlled the second half,” Flint said. “We played to our feet and we were moving well without the ball.”
Leboffe’s goal came with 19 minutes left. Flint said it was one of her team’s best sequences this season.
One-touch possessions by Haley Wist, Amanda Flint, Webster and Forgit set up Leboffe for a breakaway she finished to the opposite corner.
Forgit earned the assist.
“You can tell they were young,” Flint said of a 13-1-3 Downsville squad that lost, 3-1, to the Mustangs in a Section Four Class D quarterfinal last season. “I do believe us being there (last season), we know what we’re doing and what we have to do. It did play into our hands.”
On a third game against Franklin, Flint said: “We definitely know they are and what they can do. They’re a pretty athletic team and we know they have some pretty good players in Jordan Beers and Jessica Downin. They have girls who can make things happen.
“I think we’re ready to play them,” she continued. “Haley Downin, their goalie, is really good. It’s hard to get a shot on her. Both times we’ve played she had awesome games. She’ll be a big factor.”
Franklin 2, Marathon 0
Second-half goals by Mariah McNeilly and Jessie Downin led Franklin into Saturday’s final.
McNeilly opened the scoring 7:55 into the second half. Marisa Cawley controlled the ball down the right wing. About 10 yards from the end line, Cawley centered a pass into the middle of the box. McNeilly volleyed a low shot into the goal.
With 19:49 left, Downin made it a two-goal spread. Paige Fairchilds dribbled down the left side. She then laid a pass back to Downin, who toe-poked inside the right post from 10 yards.
“I hate using the word ‘dominate,’ but to tell you the truth, we controlled every facet of this game,” Franklin coach J.J. Laing said. “They maybe had a few chances behind us, but for the most part we had the better of play.”
The Purple Devils held advantages of 10-6 in shots and 6-4 in corner kicks. Haley Downin made six saves in the shutout.
“I personally believe, and I’m sure I’m going to take some heat from some Oneonta people, that we have the best goalkeeper in the area,” Laing said of Haley Downin.
Laing said a key to his team’s sectional run has been the improvement of his role players. Early in the season, Jordan Beers did the bulk of Franklin’s scoring.
“The last two games, Jordan Beers hasn’t scored,” Laing said. “But she’s creating a lot of situations and drawing a lot of attention, and now I have other girls putting it away.”
Of Morris, he said: “What makes Morris so strong is that they’re so balanced. I would say my girls are getting there. We’ve grown up quite a bit this year. We start two seniors and three juniors, and the rest are young girls. We’re growing up.”