CORTLAND — Oneonta High’s girls took a physical pounding during Sunday’s Class B state soccer final and an emotional one following it.
The sight of senior goalie Emmalee Sloman on her knees with her forehead pressed against the artificial turf at Cortland State and her hands covering her head told the story. Sloman’s reaction came after the Yellowjackets’ 3-1 overtime loss to Greece Odyssey on a sunny but cool afternoon.
Of course, the opposite end of the field told a far different story as a jubilant bunch of Leopards celebrated the program’s first state championship.
Other Yellowjackets showed the sting of this loss. Senior Dani Nicosia just sat on the field and stared for what seemed like a minute. OHS coach Jerry Mackey appeared to want to say something to his squad following the awards ceremony but choked up.
“It was a great run,” said OHS sophomore Taryn More, whose first-half goal gave the Yellowjackets a lead they clung to for more than 30 minutes of the second half — until Rachael Walsh tied the score with 8:49 left in regulation. “It’s disappointing we had to lose in the final, but you can’t be sad about the end. We’re second place in the state. You can’t complain about a season like that.”
But OHS was so close to that first state championship in girls soccer. The same title the Jackets chased for much of Helen Sandford’s 30-year tenure on the sidelines once again eluded them. Sandford won 440 games — a state record at the time of her retirement after the 2003 season — and led OHS to 15 Section Four championships. The closest her program came to a state title, though, were losses in the 2000 and 2003 finals.
Mackey, her former assistant, took over the next season. OHS again advanced to the final but fell, 2-0, to Rockville Centre South Side.