ONEONTA — Marathon’s Cameron Neilson scored with 17:39 left in the first half as the top-ranked Olympians defeated five seed Margaretville, 1-0, in a Section IV Class D boys soccer semifinal at Wright National Soccer Campus.
“I’m proud of these guys. A 1-0 game, I couldn’t ask for more from these guys,” Margaretville coach Jim Owdienko said. “I believe Section IV in Class D is the hardest section this year, without a doubt with Kortright, us, Cherry Valley and Marathon, I’m a big fan of Section IV going all the way to a state championship this year.”
Marathon kept possession in the Margaretville defensive third for much of the first half, eventually breaking the tie through Neilson. Trent O’Neill sent a short, knee-high pass to Neilson just inside the box, where he controlled with one touch and hit a low volley into the far corner past Blue Devils goalkeeper Billy Miller.
The goal proved the be the game’s lone score despite a 15-1 lead in shots for Marathon and a 7-0 edge in corners.
“They really just had one in the first half, if that touch doesn’t happen, it’s a 0-0 game,” Owdienko said. “This was exactly the game I thought it would be, I was just hoping we could get one or two good opportunities. Looking at them, four goals scored against them all year in their schedule, I knew chances would be few and far between.”
While Marathon remained in complete control for the duration of the first half, Margaretville showed signs of life early in the second half as the forward runs of Mauricio Hernandez and Ryan McVitty led the attack.
Clear-cut opportunities eluded the Blue Devils, but kept Owdienko’s side in the game despite Marathon reasserting control later in the period.
“The second half I was surprised we came out like we did. They let us penetrate their defense a little more than most teams have, probably,” Owdienko said. “I’m proud of these guys and what they did against them.”
The top-seeded Olympians, the defending section champions, head back to the section final against Cherry Valley-Springfield, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2, at WNSC.
Margaretville concludes its season at 15-3-1, having outscored opponents 98-16 and earned a share of the Delaware League championship.
Despite playing intraleague power South Kortright twice and Section III powerhouse Cincinnatus in nonleague action, Owdienko said he hopes a tougher schedule will take his team to the next level in 2020.
“We’re going to have to work on our scheduling next year, we are going to have to beef our schedule up,” Owdienko said. “Marathon is at their peak right now, and that’s where we want to be next year. We have about five juniors who are going to be stepping up. We need to replace (senior goalkeeper) Billy Miller, but on the field we will be better and stronger to give it a good run next year.”
Marathon 1, Margaretville 0
5-Margaretville ..... 0 0 - 0
1-Marathon ..... 1 0 - 1
Marathon: Cameron Neilson 1-0, Trent O’Neill 0-1.
Shots-corners: Mara 15-7; Marg 1-0.
Goalies: Kenyon DePoy (Mara) 1; Billy Miller (Marg) 13.