ONEONTA – Jerry Mackey had to make some adjustments this season.
And not just with the Oneonta High girls soccer team but with his squad’s schedule.
With a revamped and youthful defense, Mackey said the tournament his team played in Syracuse in mid-October against Section Three powers Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse was originally scheduled about a month earlier.
“I said to those teams, we’re willing to play you but not the third week of September,” Oneonta’s 10th-year coach said Wednesday in Drago Gymnasium just after standout midfielder Mariah Ruff officially signed a letter of intent to play Division I basketball at St. Bonaventure on a full scholarship. “It will be no contest.”
The Yellowjackets (18-2-1), who’ll play Section Five’s Hornell in a Class B state semifinal at 5 p.m. Saturday at Cortland High, graduated defensive stalwarts Shelby Cleaveland, Jennifer Jelic and Amy Hait, along with goalie Emmalee Sloman off of last season’s team that advanced to the Class B state final.
After some tinkering, Mackey turned to juniors Kendall Gillette, Alicia Arcidiacono to play the wing positions on defense. Senior Meg Burns took over at sweeper and junior Maddie Grau became the goalie.
With junior Madison Miller back following an right ankle injury that sidelined her for a few weeks in October, suddenly the Yellowjackets’ defense is no longer an issue.
In fact, since a 3-2 victory over Vestal in a Southern Tier Athletic Conference semifinal, OHS hasn’t allowed a goal.
It beat Elmira, 1-0, to win its third straight STAC title and followed it with shutout wins over Waverly (2-0), Susquehanna Valley (3-0) and Seton Catholic Central (2-0) en route to a third straight Section Four Class B title.
Then came a 1-0 victory over Bronxville in a state first-round game and a 2-0 win against Spackenkill this past Saturday that sent the Yellowjackets into the state final four for the second straight year.