The Oneonta High girls soccer team was up to the challenge of facing an undefeated team in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference championship game Friday.
Nobody got higher than Mariah Ruff and Maddie Grau, however, and that made all the difference in the Yellowjackets’ 1-0 victory over Elmira at Elmira Free Academy.
Ruff’s leaping body blow gave OHS the lead a little more than eight minutes into the match and Grau got up for an overhead save in the final seconds to secure the Jackets’ third straight STAC crown and fourth in program history.
“From start to finish, it was really exciting,” said OHS coach Jerry Mackey, whose team played its fourth state-ranked opponent in seven days. “To think back at what the girls have done the last seven days and to win a third STAC championship in a row? It’s such a difficult league to win in general. We understand we were shorthanded, but that’s just an excuse if you want it.”
Standouts Madison Miller and Brieanna Baker missed Oneonta’s second STAC playoff game after suffering injuries in non-league weekend losses to Class AA powers Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool. On Wednesday, STAC East Division champion OHS (13-2-1) battled past Class A Vestal, 3-2 in overtime, to advance to the title game at West Division winner Elmira — a 15-0 Class AA squad.
“Realistically, we had the better of play for the most part,” Mackey said. “They were 15-0 and this was the (Elmira) team that was going to get the first STAC title for them. But they didn’t really settle in and string together some of the passes I’d seen them do earlier this year.
“They got a couple of early chances down in our end the first three or four minutes, then we kind of settled in,” Mackey continued. “We were down in their end after two or three throw-ins in a row, and one of those got deflected out of bounds on end line.”