By Rob Centorani
The Daily Star
---- — GREENE — If Friday night’s Section Four Class B soccer final was a three-act play, Oneonta High’s girls improved with each segment.
The opening act must have had Yellowjackets coach Jerry Mackey wondering who was wearing his team’s jerseys. The second act was demonstrably better and in the final act, OHS played like the team that returned all but two starters from the squad that won last year’s sectional title.
Sophomore Brieanna Baker scored with 5 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first overtime, and top-seeded OHS tacked on three more goals before it was over in beating Seton Catholic Central, 4-0, to win its second straight sectional title.
“We’re always confident,” Baker said. “We never got down on ourselves. We just kept pushing and we knew we were going to get one sooner or later.”
The first goal started with Abby Picinich and Cami Cleaveland fighting with a pair of Saints defenders near the left corner. Eventually, Picinich freed herself near the end line and sent a cross into the middle of the box. An on-rushing Baker then volleyed it into the right side of the net.
The Yellowjackets (17-2), who’ll play a state quarterfinal against the Section 1 or Section 9 winner at some point — Hurricane Sandy pushed back sectional play for downstate teams — looked sluggish in the first half and Mackey was not pleased at halftime.
“I got a little animated,” he said. “I started with getting self-esteem covered. I said, ‘You’re all good kids, I’m glad you’re playing, thanks for coming all the way down to Greene.’ But this is mind-boggling. If we’re going to get beat, then get beat, but right now we’re losing. We’re not doing anything, we’re not putting any pressure on. We played what I call gym-ball soccer _ everybody’s running around as fast as you can, but nobody’s doing anything. I said, slow down. Feed the outside mid, which we knew was an advantage for us, play to a forward and actually possess.”
Oneonta, which beat SCC, 3-0, in last year’s sectional final, did just that. They pressured throughout the second half but didn’t create many solid chances.
That changed with Baker’s goal in overtime.
The Yellowjackets made it 2-0 with 6.4 seconds left in the first overtime, when Cleaveland sent a crossing pass that Madison Miller headed into the right side of the goal.
Dani Nicosia and Picinich contributed goals in the second overtime.
“I think we just had to break the ice,” Picinich said. “We knew it was going to come, but we had to get that first one.
“It feels very good (winning a sectional title),” she continued. “This is my first year on varsity and I’m really happy to be with all of these great players.”
The Yellowjackets held a 17-5 advantage in shots.
Emmalee Sloman made three saves in the shutout, one aided by a defense led by Miller, who shadowed Saints leading scorer Alyssa Ricci throughout.
“Madison Miller, it’s going on a month now where she’s just locking people down,” Mackey said.
Rob Centorani can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.