By Dean Russin Sports Editor
The Daily Star
---- — NORWICH — Cassidy Newman’s corner kick with about three minutes left gave Unatego its best chance to score Friday night at Norwich High.
The junior’s high serve from the right corner cleared most of the bodies battling for position inside the 18-yard box while teammate Tanner Reed charged in from the left for an uncontested header.
Sophomore Reed didn’t bother to watch the aftermath, snapping her head in the opposite direction and briskly walking back toward midfield with a disgusted look on her face as the ball sailed high and wide left of her target.
Not that it really mattered at that point, but plays such as that gave Spartans coach Sue Herodes something to smile about following a 5-0 loss to top-seeded Lansing in the Section Four Class C girls soccer championship game.
“We are extremely young,” said Herodes, whose third-seeded and defending champion Spartans (15-3-1) spent most of Friday night trying to slow down the undefeated champions of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference on Norwich’s artificial turf. “I only have three seniors and their performance today gave me hope. I didn’t sub and those kids just went 80 minutes and stayed with a team that’s extremely good.”
Megan Faulkner can take most of the credit for keeping Lansing out of the Spartans’ net for nearly 35 minutes. The sophomore goalie often put herself in the perfect position and sacrificed her body to stop a pair of close-range shots in the early going. She made nine saves in the first half, but all of them came before Lansing struck 5:01 ahead of the break.
Lansing penetrated the middle of the box with a throughball to double-guarded Shea McCartney, who sent the ball back out to Elena Parkins. One of four Lansing seniors, Parkins shook a defender with a quick two-step to her right and hooked in a shot to the far post to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
Lansing (18-0) stayed on the attack to set up a corner kick for Parkins less than three minutes later. Her liner pinballed through the box and eventually found Reilly Zajac on the far side, where she one-timed a cross inside the right netting for a 2-0 advantage with 2:10 left in the half.
“She played a great game,” Lansing coach Eric Stickel said of Faulkner, who finished with 12 saves. “We got good chances right away, but we couldn’t finish. So we just kept plugging away and good things happened.”
Madeline Boerman gave Lansing a 3-0 cushion 8:05 into the second half, sprinting deep down the left side and scoring on a low cross that settled inside the far post.
McCartney later capped the scoring with back-to-back goals less than a minute apart. Her first came on cross from the left with 7:45 remaining and her second came on a breakaway down the right side, again crossing to the far post, with 6:49 left.
“They move the ball quickly and when they attack, they attack fast,” Herodes said. “Those were awesome shots. You’re not going to stop those. Megan stopped the ones she was going to be able to stop.”
Despite the lopsided loss, Herodes said she was pleased with her team’s season, which produced a Midstate Athletic Conference title and an appearance in the Section Four final.
“We lost 10 girls from last year’s team and never expected to even be here,” she said. “It’s just a testament to what these kids can do. I can’t be happier with how the season turned out.”
Ditto for Stickel, whose team advanced to a state quarterfinal next Saturday against the Section Three champion.
“We’re fairly young, but age is just a number,” he said. “We’ve got 23 special girls in my eyes who each have a role and if they fulfill that role, we just can’t be stopped.”
Lansing 5, Unatego 0
SECTION FOUR CLASS C
Championship at Norwich
Unatego0 0 – 0
Lansing2 3 – 5
3-Unatego (15-3-1): None.
1-Lansing: (18-0): Elena Parkins 1-0, Shea McCartney 2-1, Reilly Zajac 1-0, Madeline Boerman 1-0, Kristina Drake 0-1.
Shots-corner kicks: U 9-1; L 18-4.
Goalies: Megan Faulkner (U) 12; Sarah Gisler (L) 8.
Dean Russin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.