By Brian C. Horey Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — NEW BERLIN — Once Unatego’s girls got going Friday, it was hard to make them stop.
Tanner Reed started a four-goal spurt less than 12 minutes into the opening half, leading the Spartans to a 5-1 Midstate Athletic Conference soccer championship victory over host Unadilla Valley.
“They were just beating us to the ball early,” said Unatego coach Sue Herodes, whose team allowed one shot in the first 10-plus minutes despite constant pressure from the Division II champion Storm (8-7). “But once we settled down and started to get our passing game going, we knew we were going to score.”
Samantha Pikaard soon set the tone with a shot that didn’t find the net, pounding the ball off the near post for the Division I champs.
Reed followed with an unassisted goal 11:38 into the match, starting a first-half scoring spree for Unatego (14-2). Reed carried the ball into the right corner of UV’s end, beat a defender and stroked a shot past goalie Abbie Oglesby (eight saves) for a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans continued their attack with 21:25 left in the first half as Torri Halaquist made it 2-0 off a corner-kick assist from Emily Slawson.
Pikaard then made up for the one that got away, converting a pass to the top of the 18-yard box from Kayla Komenda with 12:56 left before halftime for a 3-0 advantage.
Komenda also set up Allyson Butler for the final goal of the opening half. UV failed to clear Komenda’s free kick, which resulted from a high-kick penalty, and Butler cleaned it up with 7:09 to go as the Spartans took a 4-0 lead into the break.
“When we play our team passing game, that is the key,” Herodes said. “Nobody can effectively mark everyone.”
The Storm avoided a shutout 11 minutes into the second half, when Taylor Davis beat winning goalie Megan Faulkner (five saves) with an unassisted goal.
Reed capped the scoring 10 minutes later on a shot that bounced down off the crossbar. Referee Bruce Miller ruled the ball broke the goal line, giving an assist to Halaquist in the process.
Despite the loss, UV coach Diane Hayes said she was proud of the Storm’s season.
“Just getting to the MAC championship game was significant,” she said. “And beating Greene (twice) for the first time in six seasons was the high point of the season.”
Unatego also beat UV, 2-0, in overtime during the regular season. The teams played on the tall grass of the Storm’s modified field Friday because Thursday’s heavy rain made the varsity pitch unplayable.
Unatego, which won its ninth MAC title in the league’s 13th season, has a first-round bye for the upcoming Section Four Class C Tournament. The third-seeded Spartans will host MAC rival Sidney, which is seeded sixth, in a sectional quarterfinal at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
UV is the ninth seed for sectionals and will visit No. 8 seed Candor of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference for a first-round game at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Unatego and UV are on opposite sides of the brackets, meaning they can only meet again this season if they both advance to the Section Four Class C title game in November.
Unatego 5, UV 1
Unatego 4 1 - 5
Unadilla Valley 0 1 - 1
Unatego (14-2): Tanner Reed 2-0, Torri Halaquist 1-1, Samantha Pikaard 1-0, Allyson Butler 1-0, Kayla Komenda 0-2, Emily Slawson 0-1.
Unadilla Valley (8-7): Taylor Davis 1-0.
Shots-corner kicks: Unat 16-3; UV 10-3.
Goalies: Megan Faulkner (Unat) 5, Cassidy Frazier (Unat) 2; Abbie Oglesby (UV) 8.