ONEONTA — If Oneonta High wanted to make excuses Wednesday night, it had a lot of them.
Two of the Yellowjackets’ top players were on the bench with injuries, they were coming off of lopsided losses to two Section Three Class AA powers over the weekend and they were playing a state-ranked Class A squad in a Southern Tier Athletic Conference girls soccer semifinal.
Turns out, OHS — a Class B state finalist in 2012 — didn’t need any excuses.
Taylor Hitchcock headed in a throw-in from Mariah Ruff with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first overtime to lift the Yellowjackets to a dramatic 3-2 victory over Vestal at Lloyd Baker Field.
STAC East Division champion OHS (12-2-1) now has the opportunity to win a third straight STAC title Friday. That’s when they travel to West Division winner Elmira, which defeated Seton Catholic Central, 2-1, in Wednesday’s other semifinal. The time for Friday’s game has not been set.
“I think all the girls had doubts because of last weekend,” Ruff said of a 2-0 loss to Cicero-North Syracuse on Saturday and a 3-0 setback to Liverpool on Sunday. “Last weekend was tough. We lost two girls (Brieanna Baker to a shoulder injury and Madison Miller to a right-ankle injury) and we didn’t play very well. We were just wondering where we were, but obviously, we’re right back where we were last year.”
Ruff, who shared Daily Star Player of the Year honors in 2012 with Miller, set up two goals with her long throw-ins. She also hit the crossbar on a throw-in in the second half.
“We’ve said it before, a throw-in is a corner for us,” OHS coach Jerry Mackey said. “She knows it’s such a weapon to have. It’s a big trump card for us.”