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Photo by Cheryl CloughSouth Kortright-s Eric Burns is tied for the team lead with 12 goals this season. The Rams meet Hamilton in a Class D state quarterfinal at noon Saturday at the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

The last time boys from South Kortright and Hamilton met in a state quarterfinal was March 11, 2000, in the cozy confines of LeMoyne College's gymnasium for a basketball game.

The schools will get reacquainted at noon Saturday at the National Soccer Hall of Fame fields for a Class D state soccer quarterfinal.

Different sport, and from the Rams' perspective, hopefully a different outcome.

"We got beat in overtime," Bob VanValkenburgh _ SK's longtime coach in soccer, basketball and baseball _ said of the Emerald Knights' 74-68 victory.

Two guarantees for Saturday: there won't be anything cozy about rainy conditions forecasted for Saturday and the score will be considerably lower. It's possible the first team to score might secure a spot in the state semifinals the following weekend back at the Soccer Hall.

Section Four champion SK (18-2-1) and Section Three winner Hamilton (19-2) have combined for 27 shutouts, with Hamilton earning 14, and each advanced to this point with 1-0 victories in their sectional finals.

The Rams beat Margaretville and Hamilton ended Poland's three-year sectional title streak this past Saturday.

So rather than taking a look at those responsible for scoring goals, let's first examine those in charge of preventing them.

For South Kortright, making its first appearance in the state playoffs, it starts with senior sweeper Dan Many.

"I think he makes everything go," VanValkenburgh said. "He's a big kid and he communicates well."

The center marking back is junior Tanner Metzko, who switched positions with midfielder Kyle Hotaling midway through the season.

Junior Ladd Hanselman is the right outside back and senior Andrew DeFreese plays on the left side.

"He came out late for the season and moved into the starting role about five games ago," VanValkenburgh said of DeFreese.

Junior Charlie Darling plays goalie.

The Emerald Knights counter with seniors Brendon Meeks (sweeper), Alex Thompson (stopper), Bobby Dick (outside), former football player Josh Sorosky (outside) and Will Keever (goalie).

Keever made 15 saves against Poland on Saturday, when Hamilton avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Tornadoes.

"Having played against Poland this season and facing them in the playoffs, they have big-game experience," said Hamilton coach Brian Latella, whose team has not reached the state playoffs since 1998, a season after it won its second state title in three years.

Senior Nathan Steward is the Emerald Knights' leading scorer, with 22 goals and 16 assists. Sophomore Dan Kraynak has contributed 19 goals and nine assists, Tyler White has 18 goals and three assists, and Matt Broedel has 16 goals and eight assists.

"When we can possess the ball and knock it around to multiple players, things are working," Latella said of his offense.

Broedel scored Hamilton's goal against Poland in the sectional final.

"It sounds like they're very similar to us," said VanValkenburgh, whose team has won seven straight games since back-to-back losses to Downsville and Margaretville about five weeks ago. "They're quick and aggressive on the ball, I guess they have a very athletic goalie and two kids who have scored 18-19 goals, and a good center midfielder. From everything I've heard, we've got our hands full."

The Rams' offense revolves around no one in particular. South Kortright's 63 goals this season have been spread among 12 players, with seniors Eric Burns and Josh Palmatier leading the way with 12 apiece.

Senior Ryan Dorosky has eight, and senior Hotaling and eighth-grader Trevor Holdridge each have seven.

SK's offensive attack often originates in the midfield, where big and sturdy players such as Hotaling and Palmatier have specialized in winning balls in the air.

"I think it gives you a good advantage with the air game," VanValkenburgh said of his team's size. "We're pretty good at that. I don't think we're overly physical, although some people might question that.

"Hotaling and Palmatier have a little presence in terms of size and they're competitors," he continued. "You can have size and quickness, but you have to be a competitor."

___

Rob Centorani can be reached at rcentorani@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.

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