The Oneonta Soccer Club defeated the Greater Binghamton Football Club, 3-1, on Saturday to win the Binghamton Alternative HS Soccer League championship.
“It was a very close game, strongest team that we’ve played yet,” said Oneonta Soccer Club Head Coach Michael Maben. “Of course, we kind of expected that being a regional travel club much like ourselves.”
Oneonta struck first at the 10-minute mark when Matt Shultz took on his defender and scored.
“The ball got played to me, I was on the right side of the 18-yard box and I kinda just was taking it left; and I saw the defender kind of cheat a little; and I cut inside of him; and was on a 1-on-1 with the goalie,” Schultz said.
Schultz followed up his first goal by dancing on the ball and scoring at roughly the 20-minute mark of the first half, giving Oneonta a 2-0 lead.
“I was on the end-line on the right side of the 18; and I was going to put a cross in; but, there was nobody up. So I stopped and cut back in; and I beat a couple kids and shot with my left foot outside the 18 into the bottom corner,” Shultz said.
Binghamton fought back with a goal of its own, cutting the Oneonta lead to 2-1. But Oneonta responded with a goal from Dylan Davi and went into halftime up 3-1.
“We had to keep composure because it was a 2-1 game at one point and they had momentum, so we had to just stay focused and we got the lead back at the end of the half, so that was important,” Schultz said.
In the second half, scoring subsided, resulting in a back-and-forth gritty affair. The Oneonta back line of Lance Maben, Garrett Seeley, Aidan Mackey, Owen Shultz and goalkeeper Quinn Hansen held strong. Hansen made several key saves to frustrate Binghamton’s offense and keep the score in Oneonta’s favor.
“The back four were in almost the whole game, 99 percent of the game,” Maben said. He said the defense’s effort in the second half was vital the team’s victory.
Schultz, a senior at Oneonta High School, was named MVP of the championship game. He said that although the recruiting process has been made difficult by COVID-19, he hopes to play at the collegiate level for a two-year or Division II school next year.
The Oneonta Soccer Club usually plays in all-blue “Fossa Cat” jerseys with yellow piping down the sides. The U19 boys team have been together since age 7 and have their own unique jerseys.
Maben said the idea for the jerseys came about when the boys were younger and the movie “Madagascar” had just been released by DreamWorks Pictures. In the movie, there is a mischievous Foosa Cat that lives on the island of Madagascar. The movie was the team’s favorite and so they decided to purchase custom jerseys with the Foosa Cat on them as their team logo.
The Oneonta Soccer Club got more welcome news Monday.
The team has been invited to keep playing in the first pandemic championship league, which will feature select teams from Binghamton, Albany, Rochester, Utica, Syracuse and the surrounding areas. The league will be played entirely outdoors, weather permitting, as far into the winter as possible.
“They were extremely excited,” Maben said. “I think they felt it was about as best as they could do this year. Social media was going wild.”