ONEONTA — Three first-half goals were too many to overcome as third-seeded Cherry Valley-Springfield fell to top seed Marathon, 4-1, in the Section IV Class D boys soccer final Saturday, Nov. 2, at Wright National Soccer Campus.
It may not sound like a perfect ending for the Patriots, but for a group that was the last team into the section bracket in 2018, a share of the Tri-Valley League title and a loss to the defending champions in the section final is far from a disappointing season.
"It was a really great team effort. We came a long way the past three years," CV-S senior Larry Kroon said. "We worked hard and played for each other. It was awesome."
"These kids have come a long way from last year," CV-S coach Terri Adams said. "To turn things around and work hard as a unit and individuals, it's a storybook ending, really."
The Olympians entered the section tournament as favorites to defend their title from 2018, and showed why in the first half. Cameron Neilson put Marathon ahead after three minutes before before Diego Castellot struck from distance three minutes later.
The lead went to three with five minutes left in the half as Trent O'Neill scored directly from a corner kick. The delivery came from the right side with O'Neill's right foot, but the ball caught the breeze at WNSC and drifted over the head of CV-S goalkeeper Owen Johnson and into the far-post netting.
At the break, Marathon led in shots, 6-0, and corners, 5-0.
"They're really good. They were phenomenal at moving the ball side to side, executing the short game," Kroon said. We tried to do that but we settled into the long ball, which isn't what we wanted to do. But they're a great team, and it was a great game."
The Patriots showed signs of life early in the second half, with senior Jeb Magruder creating an opportunity with good work on the right flank six minutes in. His short pass to Austin Yerdon was hit first time and look destined for the top corner, but was tipped over the bar by Olympian goalkeeper Kenyon DePuy.
While Marathon continued to control possession and field position, CV-S produced more forward thrusts in the second half after being pinned into its defensive half for most of the first period. But Marathon sweeper Andrew Tillotson was their to eliminate the most serious threats, and the Olympians erased all doubt with 15:45 left as Braeden Morrison hammered home into an empty net from close range following a scramble in front of the net.
"They're a really well established unit," Adams said of Marathon. "They're well balanced from the strikers to their goalie, and I wish them the best. If we are going to lose, I want them to go all the way."
The Patriots were not done, however, as the final goal arrived with 13:28 remaining off the foot of sophomore Will Heinrich. Following a Marathon foul near the left side of the penalty area, Heinrich drilled the free kick around the Marathon wall and in past the near post.
"We scored on a really good team," Kroon said. "We got a goal, it was 4-1, not 4-0. So we put some offense up there and made a bit of a stand. The second half was definitely better than the first."
The Olympians finished with a 12-3 edge in shots and a 15-2 lead in corner kicks.
CV-S ended its season at 17-3-1.
"These kids don't hang their heads, and they shouldn't," Adams said. "They've learned to overcome obstacles and meet challenges. They were just awesome."
Marathon 4, Cherry Valley-Springfield 1
CV-S ..... 0 1 - 1
Marathon ..... 3 1 - 4
Marathon: Cameron Neilson 1-0, Diego Castellot 1-0, Trent O'Neill 1-0, Braeden Morrison 1-0.
CV-S (17-3-1): Will Heinrich 1-0.
Shots-corners: M 12-15; CVS 3-2.
Goalkeepers: Kenyon DePuy (M) 1; Owen Johnson (CVS) 6.