By BRIAN C. HOREY Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA – It’s hard to win sectional titles.
Unbeaten and top-seeded Margaretville discovered that Saturday afternoon in the Section Four Class D boys soccer final at the Wright National Soccer Campus.
The Blue Devils (18-0) needed three goals by Matt Van Valkenburg, the decisive one coming 2 minutes, 53 seconds into the second overtime, to beat a game squad from Davenport, 3-2, to win its first sectional title since 2009.
“We knew they were going to be tough,” said Margaretville coach Jeremey Marks, whose squad downed fellow Delaware League Upper Division member Davenport, 3-0, on Sept. 10.
The teams played 64 ½ minutes of scoreless soccer before breaking out to score four goals in a 10-minute span late in the second half.
The third-seeded Wildcats (14-4) were six minutes away from sectional title. They took a 2-1 lead with 10:40 remaining in the second half when Paul Clark scored off of a direct kick by Kyle Moorby into the goal.
So a Margaretville squad that rarely trailed all season found itself down a goal for the second time in four minutes. As for the Davenport lead, it was forged without the help of standout forward Michael Libby, whose arm was in a sling from an injury suffered in Wednesday’s 2-1 semifinal victory over No. 2 Cherry Valley-Springfield.
But the Blue Devils responded.
They set up for a corner kick with six minutes remaining. The Blue Devils’ first goal, which tied the score at 1 with 11:37 left in regulation, came on a corner kick.
So did their second.
Roberto Sarabia and Van Valkenburg collaborated on both goals, with the athletic Van Valkenburg heading in both services. The latter came with 5:56 to go in the second half.
“There was a lot of pushing and pulling on both those goals,” Davenport coach Deb Moorby said. “We just didn’t get any call going our way.”
Marks said his team played sharper after the Wildcats opened the scoring with 15:27 left in the second half.
Kyle Wamsley scored on a rebound after his cousin Kyle smashed a shot off of the near post to give Davenport a 1-0 lead.
“Once they got their first goal, we started to get our act together, started passing the ball and played our game,” Marks said. “Until that point, we were playing their game.”
Sarabia and Van Valkenburg collaborated on the tying goal 3:50 later. Sarabia hit the corner from the right side and Van Valkenburg leaped amid a sea of white and maroon shirts to head the ball just over the outstretched arms of Davenport goalie Chris Kopf.
The Blue Devils were at their best Saturday when they were moving the ball and that was certainly case on Van Valkenburg’s winner.
Following a three-pass combination, Van Valkenburg found himself with possession in open space. He took several quick strides before hitting hard shot to the near post that eluded a diving Kopf.
“We just didn’t seem to get into our game until we were behind,” Van Valkenburg said.
Part of the reason for Davenport’s success came from numerous lineup switches. Deb Moorby moved stopper Kyle Wamsley to left forward, the speedy Bailey Banks took over for Wamsley at stopper, and Cody Wamsley dropped from middle attack to midfield.
“We simply had to do a better job matching their speed,” Moorby said.
Moorby added of her team’s play, “They just never gave up, never let down.”
Margaretville’s last sectional title came in a 2-1 victory over Cherry Valley-Springfield in 2009. The Blue Devils then lost a state quarterfinal, 2-0, to Hamilton.
This time around Margaretville will play Watertown Immaculate Heart (15-3-1) in a state quarterfinal this weekend at a Section Three site to be determined. Second-seeded Watertown IHC knocked off top-seeded Poland, 2-0, in the Section Three final Friday.
Margaretville 3, Davenport 2
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Championship at WNSC
Davenport 0 2 0 0 – 2
Margaretville 0 2 0 1 – 3
3-Davenport (14-4): Kyle Wamsley 1-0, Cody Wamsley 0-1, Paul Clark 1-0, Kyle Moorby 0-1.
1-Margaretville (18-0): Matt Van Valkenburg 3-0, Roberto Sarabia 0-2.
Shots-corner kicks: D 9-3; M 14-7.
Goalies: Chris Kopf (D) 7; Marvin Morales (M) 7.