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November 17, 2012

OHS faces tough road to state title

By Rob Centorani
The Daily Star

---- — As Oneonta High’s girls prepared for this weekend’s Class B state soccer semifinals, Yellowjackets coach Jerry Mackey said he sought advice from OHS’ baseball coach.

Huh?

Don’t worry. Mackey hasn’t started teaching sacrifice bunts or the correct way to pivot on a double play to his 17-2-1 squad.

Instead, he asked Joe Hughes’ counsel for insights on how the Yellowjackets baseball coach guided his squad that beat the 2009-2010 and 2011 state champions, and the 2011 state runner-up en route to a state title this past spring.

Oneonta’s girls will have to take a similar path if they want to win the program’s first state championship.

The Yellowjackets advanced past 2010 state champion Bronxville on Tuesday in a state quarterfinal. Through 110 minutes of regulation and four overtimes, the teams played to a 1-all tie before OHS advanced with a 4-3 win in a penalty-kick shootout.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Tompkins Cortland Community College, OHS will face a Cold Spring Harbor squad that lost in a shootout to 2011 state finalist Greece Odyssey in the semifinals.

Greece Odyssey and 2011 state champion Schalmont will meet in the other semifinal — that game starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Cortland High.

Saturday’s winners will play for the state title at 10 a.m. Sunday at Cortland State.

“There are a lot of similarities, for sure,” Mackey said. “I’ve been picking Joe’s brain, because last year and the year before, they set a new bar.

“When our draw came out, we’ve never wanted the easy way out,” he continued. “We beat a tough Seton Catholic Central team (4-0 in overtime in the Section Four final), we beat a tough Bronxville team, we have Cold Spring Harbor waiting for us and then possibly Schalmont, the defending champs, but we’ve never ducked a challenge.”

Task one is getting through a Cold Spring Harbor squad that has won six straight Nassau County titles and 12 Class C state crowns. The Seahawks (15-3), champions of Section Eight, advanced Tuesday with a 1-0 double-overtime victory over Section 11’s Babylon.

Sophomore Alicia Roy scored the winner in that game, on a 25-yard free kick.

Though Mackey hasn’t seen the Seahawks in person, a few clicks of the mouse allowed him to see video footage of the squad that has 12 shutouts this season.

“It looks like they try to play possession soccer and build up,” said Mackey, who was a first-year varsity coach when the Yellowjackets made their last appearance in the state

final four — that coming in 2004, when OHS lost, 2-0, to Section Eight’s Rockville Centre South Side in the Class A final. “We feel it should be a good matchup. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Along with Roy, Teressa Fazio, Brooke Jenson, Katie Hudson and Julia Schubauer are offensive threats for the Seahawks.

Fazio leads the team with 15 goals. Hudson, a freshman, has 10.

“A few of the girls have good technical skills and good vision,” Mackey said. “Three girls have sort of taken balls up the field. It’s kind of a triangulation build up. They have talented kids who possess the ball on the outside and they’re sound defensively. They’re a program, not a one-year wonder.”

Defensively, CSH will have to deal with a balanced Yellowjackets attack that has seen eight players score at least six goals. Seniors Cami Cleaveland and sophomore Taryn More lead the way with 19 and 17 goals, respectively.

“I’m confident in our team,” More said after scoring in regulation and converting a penalty kick against Bronxville, which beat OHS, 1-0, in last year’s state quarterfinal before falling, 4-0, to Schalmont in a state semifinal. “It’ll be interesting to see what other teams are out there because we only got as far as Bronxville last year. We only know up to their level, but I think we can do it.”

Senior Dani Nicosia, who’s been a part of five sectional title winners between soccer and basketball, and freshman Abby Picinich have 13 goals apiece. Sophomore Brieanna Baker is next with nine.

“When teams do research on us, if you have one great marker or two, where do you put them?” Mackey said. “We’re looking at what other teams have, but they have to worry about we have. There are a lot of ways we can play.”

Section Two’s Schalmont has followed a 23-0 season a year ago with a 21-0 start to this season — the most recent win a 3-0 triumph against Plattsburgh in a state quarterfinal Saturday. Schalmont opened state play with a 2-1 win over Marcellus.

Greece Odyssey (16-3-1) has won three straight Section Five titles. It beat Akron, 3-0, in a state quarterfinal Nov. 9.

“We’re happy where we are, but we’re not satisfied,” Mackey said. “At minimum, somebody will have to beat us. Our goal is winning the whole thing or forcing somebody to beat us.”

Cold Spring Harbor coach Steve Cacioppo was reached by phone Wednesday night but said he couldn’t talk.

According to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association website, tickets cost $8 per person per day.

Rob Centorani can be reached at rcentorani@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.