ONEONTA — Lexi Dubois made up for lost time in a big way Saturday at the Wright National Soccer Campus.
Freshman Dubois took her game to a higher level with 2 minutes, 7 seconds left in the Delaware League girls soccer championship game, heading in a corner kick from Tori Rockefeller that helped South Kortright to a 2-2 tie against Davenport.
“I kind of played bad until that,” a teary-eyed Dubois said after outjumping everyone to score the goal that produced the fifth straight tie in the DL crossover. “We just couldn’t finish, I guess. ... But I got open and got a head on it.”
Dubois’ header came off a booming corner kick from Tori Rockefeller and barley beat Davenport goalie Jayra Blanton inside the near post. It also came 3:15 after Sarah Haight gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead, prompting SK coach Josh Burroughs to shoot these words through the cool wind: “You can hang your heads now or you can play the last five minutes.”
Although Dubois came through, her puffy eyes and short breaths indicated she was far from satisfied with the deadlock.
“As exciting as that second goal was, I think she was thinking about her whole game overall and I don’t think she played up to how she wanted to play today,” said Burroughs, whose team closed its regular season with a 4-0 thumping of Davenport on Oct. 11. “As a whole, we all could have played a little better.”
The statistics indicated the Rams did pretty well, though, as they finished with advantages of 13-5 in shots and 12-2 in corner kicks.
South Kortright (13-2-1) also struck first, with Kaitlyn Stinson converting a pass from Shianne Coss late in the first half. Stinson drove to the right corner and lined a virtually angle-less shot inside the top corner of the far post — lifting a defender and Blanton off the ground on block attempts as it passed overhead — to give SK a 1-0 lead with 10:28 left in the opening half.
The Rams pinned the ball in Davenport’s end for much of the second half as well but soon realized their first outright DL title since a 1-0 defeat of Margaretville in 2002 was anything but a lock.
Davenport took advantage of a breakaway down the right side that forced SK into a clear past the end line, giving the Wildcats a corner kick. Sarah Haight followed with a deep serve that started a frenzy by the far post, and teammate Megan Keil poked a short shot past SK goalie Amber Pinter to tie it at 1 with 20:51 left.
“My kids just hang in,” said Davenport coach Ray Preston, who was missing five players for various reasons. “They outplayed us, but my kids deserve credit for hanging in there.”
Pinter ignored the ball sitting in the left corner of her net, clapping her hands with her arms fully extended as she walked toward an official while pleading for a handball call.
“They thought they saw a hand play it down before they kicked it in,” Burroughs said. “But you listen to the stripes on that one.”
Moments after Cassie Maidens headed a hard shot by Dubois off the crossbar for a back save, Davenport scored the go-ahead goal at the other end. Haight had trouble breaking free in SK territory throughout, but she followed Emily Whipple’s chip over two defenders for a tap-in goal with 5:22 to go. Haight split the defenders and used the outside of her left foot to slide the ball diagonally past a charging Blanton to make it 2-1 in favor of the Wildcats (10-3-3).
“We broke down, made a mistake in the back and they made us pay for it,” Burroughs said. “Haight is dangerous. That’s why we mark her, because when she gets free, she’s dangerous.
“After they scored that second goal, you could see their heads go down,” he continued. “We could play the game out or give it to them right there. I’m happy with the way they responded. Nice corner kick; nice way to finish it.”
Dubois’ tying header prevented Davenport from winning its first outright DL title since a 3-1 win over Jefferson in 2008. That marked the last crossover that didn’t end in a tie. The Wildcats have shared four of the five championships since, with Gilboa in 2009 and 2010, Downsville in 2011, and SK this year. Margaretville and Downsville tied for the title in 2012.
The two teams have a chance to meet one more time this season, but only if they both advance to the Section Four Class D championship game Nov. 2 back at the WNSC.
Ninth-seeded Davenport opens the tournament at No. 8 Windham (8-3) on Wednesday, with the winner advancing to a quarterfinal at Tri-Valley League champion Milford (15-1) — the top seed — on Friday.
Third-seeded SK will follow a first-round bye with a home quarterfinal Friday against No. 11 Gilboa (8-4-2) or No. 6 Schenevus (10-4-1).
“We’re happy to have the first-round bye,” Burroughs said. “From here on out, we’re not going to have a lot of easy games.”
Davenport 2, SK 2
at Wright National Soccer Campus
Davenport 0 2 - 2
South Kortright 1 1 - 2
Davenport (10-3-3): Megan Keil 1-0, Sarah Haight 1-1, Emily Whipple 0-1.
South Kortright (13-2-1): Kaitlyn Stinson 1-0, Shianne Coss 0-1, Lexi Dubois 1-0, Tori Rockefeller 0-1.
Shots-corner kicks: D 5-2; S 13-12.
Goalies: Jayra Blanton (D) 8; Amber Pinter (S) 2.
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.