ONEONTA _ Several area boys will wake up today wondering what hit them.
Cherry Valley-Springfield soccer players will have far less time to recover than those from Davenport, however.
That's actually a good thing for the Patriots, who won an often brutal Section Four Class D semifinal, 3-1, under mostly sunny skies on a crisp, windy Thursday afternoon at the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
"It was more physical all around," CV-S senior striker Jason Guernsey said, comparing this victory to the 6-1 drubbing the Patriots handed Davenport during the regular season. "We can play both. We've got the advantage of going with speed or with the aggression of being physical."
The two teams combined for 26 fouls and three yellow cards in a semifinal defined by slide-tackles, injury timeouts and head-over-heel body flops on the rain-softened turf. After matching statistics for the first 40 minutes _ each team had five shots, one corner kick and no goals at halftime _ the second-seeded Patriots (18-1-1) utterly dominated No. 6 Davenport (11-7-1) in the second half.
"We knew that if we didn't come out in the second half strong, we were going home, and we didn't want that," said Jason Guernsey, who opened the scoring 5 minutes, 59 seconds into the second half to spark a 3-0 run for the Tri-Valley League champion Patriots. "If you get the first goal in the game, it's a big boost. Then you can go wherever you want after that."
CV-S is headed to a third meeting this season against league rival Laurens (15-1-1), the tournament's top seed. The two will play for the sectional title and a state-tournament berth at 10:30 a.m. Saturday back at the Soccer Hall.
The Leopards, who advanced to the final with a 3-1 victory over Delaware League champion Margaretville on Wednesday at the Soccer Hall, ended the Patriots' seven-game winning streak to start the season with a 2-0 win at CV-S on Sept. 17. The Patriots evened the season series with a come-from-behind 4-3 triumph in the T-V crossover championship Oct. 20 at the Soccer Hall.
"Our offense was working well (Thursday), but our defense got a little flat in the second half," said winning goalie Anthony Brant, who made all five of his saves in the first half and allowed Brandon Butts to score on Davenport's only shot in the second half, with 1:36 to play. "(Defense) is the thing we've got to work on because when we play Laurens, it's a different level."
The Patriots started playing at that level soon after halftime, pounding the ball into the Wildcats' end for the majority of the final 40 minutes.
After six straight probing shots that forced Davenport into scramble mode on defense, Guernsey snapped the scoreless tie with a short chip inside the near post. Freshman Jake Hoag controlled the ball within the left side of the 18-yard box and executed a short cross to Guernsey over the middle. Davenport goalie Christian Hall lost his footing on an interception attempt, and the ball skipped over the fallen keeper to an open Guernsey for a 1-0 lead.
"I needed timeouts in the first half so I could get them focused again," said third-year CV-S coach Terri Adams, who added she could not recall the last time, if ever, the Patriots reached a sectional boys soccer final. "I had a hard discussion with them (at halftime) on what needed to happen and what wasn't happening out there, and how they could cut back and play their short game."
CV-S continued to pressure Hall with deep liners that often went wide or high and dumps into open ground inside the box. The Patriots' persistence resulted in two more goals within a span of 2:08 that all but sealed their victory.
Hall swept the line to the near post as Cherry Valley's Jordan Carter penetrated the right side of the box. Carter then flipped a pass to Jesse Miller in the middle, who redirected the ball into Davenport defenders Beau and Mike Ballard. The well-struck ball glanced the Ballards, who collided and fell as they each tried to stop its momentum, and bounced in for a 2-0 CV-S lead with 20:57 to play.
Hoag set up the Patriots' final goal, touching a right-to-left pass inside the box that Seth Drugatz kicked cleanly inside the left post with 18:49 to go.
"He's had an awesome year," Guernsey said of Hoag. "Our two freshman _ Seth and Jake _ have played phenomenally. It's really helpful to have them step up all year."
Butts, who drew a yellow card with 3:17 left, finally broke through the Patriots' stout defense in the 88th minute. Called offsides twice during the first half, Butts trotted alongside a defender before breaking up the right side for a perfectly placed throughball from Buddy Adam. Brant abandoned the goal to cut the angle, but Butts unloaded a liner into the upper corner of the far post from about 20 yards out.
"Coming into the game, they just came off a huge win over Hunter-Tannersville," Brant said. "We knew that it was going to be tough. Buddy Adam and Brandon Butts, that's a good duo. One's got a nice pass and one's got a nice shot.
"On those, you get a breakaway, you've just got to come out and get low," he continued. "(Butts) put it right where he needed to put it."
Cherry Valley's Dylan Clements also took a yellow card, as did Matt Moore for Davenport, which committed most of its 18 fouls under the Patriots' excessive pressure in the second half. Now, the Patriots one-game-at-a-time mantra will finally apply to their biggest game of the season.
"We needed to get through this game first and then we need to concentrate on what's ahead of us," Adams said. "If you look too far ahead, you lose sight of what's in front of you, and it can backfire on you."
CV-S 3, Davenport 1
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at National Soccer Hall of Fame
Davenport0 1 _ 1
Cherry Valley-Springfield0 3 _ 3
6-Davenport (11-7-1): Brandon Butts 1-0, Buddy Adam 0-1.
2-Cherry Valley-Springfield (18-1-1): Jason Guernsey 1-0, Jesse Miller 1-0, Seth Drugatz 1-0, Jake Hoag 0-2.
Shots-corner kicks: D 6-1; C 19-2.
Fouls-offsides: D 18-3; C 8-2.
Yellow cards: Brandon Butts (D), Matt Moore (D); Dylan Clements (C).
Goalies: Christian Hall (D) 16; Anthony Brant (C) 5.
Dean Russin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.