ONEONTA — If at first you don’t succeed ...
Oneonta High’s boys tried and tried again to snap a tie Saturday at the Wright National Soccer Campus, going 0-for-5 in shots on goal and coming up empty on eight corner kicks in the second half of the Section Four Class B championship game.
But everything finally fell into place a little less than five minutes into overtime, when junior forward Peter Paluch crossed an 18-yarder into the upper-right side of Chenango Forks’ goal to give the Yellowjackets a 2-1 victory and their third sectional title in the last five seasons.
“This group is interesting,” said OHS coach Alex Brannan, whose program made its fifth straight appearance in the Section Four Class B final Saturday. “We pulled it out. I don’t know how, but we pulled it out.”
It’s not like Brannan wasn’t watching as his second-seeded Yellowjackets (13-4) struggled to poke one past Forks goalie Arthur Ingraham (seven saves). Instead, he seemed bewildered by the numerous whiffs, miskicks and close calls that often followed well-placed corner kicks by Zach Joseph, deep throw-ins by Mike Wolstenholme and outside charges by Theo Malone and Kragh Delello.
“It’s just the way this team is,” said Brannan, who received four saves from Jeremy Leary. “We do get a lot of chances and for most of the season, they’re going in. It’s like sometimes they’re not anticipating; they’re more reacting. At this level, once you get deeper, you can’t just react.”
Paluch anticipated the decisive play perfectly, though, falling off to the left side of the penalty box as Ian Oliver cut across from the right side.
“I saw Ian coming with the ball and a defender stepped to him, so he slipped it to me,” said Paluch, who scored the go-ahead goal in Oneonta’s 3-1 semifinal defeat of Dryden the previous Saturday. “I took a touch and shot it. I was aiming for the far side. To score the game-winning goal for sectionals, you just can’t believe it.”