ONEONTA – By now, everyone in Section Four Class D girls soccer knows that Emilie Mertz is back.
Mertz, Milford’s junior forward who missed all of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, proved that she is at full strength two minutes into the second half of a Section Four Class D semifinal at the Wright National Soccer Campus on Tuesday.
She beat two Morris defenders inside the penalty box and scored on a shot to the left post that turned out to be the winner in the Wildcats’ 2-1 win over the Mustangs.
“I got the ball from Addy (Lawson) and basically it was a 50-50 chance,” said Mertz, whose goal gave Milford a 2-0 lead. “I got possession and I just took my chance with it.”
Added Milford coach Chris Saggese, “(Mertz) has been building confidence every game since she has been back and she has been getting better every game.”
Milford took a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the first half. Fiona Brennan played a throughball to Lawson on the left side of the box. Lawson’s shot hit the right post and bounced in.
“In the first half, we just weren’t tight,” Morris coach Rhoda Flint said. “I told them at halftime, Milford is just too good a team to give up the ball to.
“In the second half, we played tighter,” continued Flint, whose team was outshot, 10-4. “We had our runs. We didn’t have as many shots as I would like to have had, but we definitely had some runs at them.”
After Mertz’s goal, Morris scored three minutes later. Haley Wist scored on a shot from the right side of the box that hit the left post and caromed into the goal.
“It was definitely a momentum shift in Morris’ favor,” Saggese said. “They came to play and they kept pressuring us.”
For Morris (13-4-2), it was the third one-goal loss to Milford this season after a 1-0 loss in the Tri-Valley championship on Oct. 19 and 1-0 loss at home on Sept. 20.
“As a coach, you try to find a weak spot, but it is hard to do with them,” Flint said.
The Mustangs had two concussion scares in the game. They lost defender Jenn Colburn in the first half after she took a hard fall. Then, as the game ended, Alexis Forgit and a Milford player had a head-to-head collision. Forgit was taken off the field in an ambulance.
No. 1 seed Milford (17-1) will play second-seeded Cherry Valley-Springfield in the Section Four Class D final Saturday back at the Wright National Soccer Campus.
“They’re just a really good team,” Mertz said of the Patriots, who advanced with a 2-0 victory over South Kortright on Tuesday. “We both want the same thing, and we are both going to have to go out there and work for it.”
Milford 2, Morris 1
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at Wright National
Morris0 1 – 1
Milford 1 1 – 2
4-Morris (13-4-2): Haley Wist 1-0.
1-Milford (17-1): Addy Lawson 1-0, Emilie Mertz 1-0, Fiona Brennan 0-1.
Shots-corner kicks: Mor 4-4; Mil 10-3.
Goalies: Kaylyn Oliver (Mor) 5; Rukiye Henderson (Mil) 1.