The Yellowjackets wouldn’t return to the state playoffs until last season, when a 19-2 campaign ended with a 1-0 loss to defending state champion Bronxville in a state quarterfinal.
OHS returned nine starters from that team.
“Since my freshman season, we’ve gotten better every year,” said senior sweeper Shelby Cleaveland, who played perhaps her best game in an OHS uniform Sunday. “Mr. Mackey is the man. I’ll never forget him. This team is the best we’ve ever had. We played the last day of the soccer season and that’s exactly what we wanted to do.”
It was Cleaveland who helped the Jackets advance to the final, assisting on Nicosia’s goal in Saturday’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Section Eight’s Cold Spring Harbor at Tompkins Cortland Community College. Section Five’s Greece Odyssey had an even bigger win Saturday, knocking off defending state champion and unbeaten Schalmont, 3-2, in the other semifinal. The Leopards lost, 4-0, to Schalmont in last season’s state final.
“This is our third straight year (in the state final four) and to finally win a championship is incredible,” said junior midfielder Jessica Marlowe, who assisted Liz Dohr’s go-ahead goal in the first overtime and scored the final one in the second OT.
One thing was clear from the outset Sunday: The officials would play almost no role in this one. It was decided by the players and it was physical. More sported a shiner under her left eye and the Leopards’ Karissa Krautwurst walked with a noticeable limp following the game.
This was not for the timid. Bodies crashed to the turf and, more often than not, OHS took the brunt of those hits.
“They were big and strong and talented and physical,” Mackey said of the 18-3-1 Leopards. “It was a great matchup for us and we felt we had some opportunities early.”