NORWICH – Third-seeded Oneonta fell 2-1 to No. 1 Chenango Forks in the Section IV Class B girls soccer title game Saturday, Nov. 2, at Norwich High School.
The Yellowjackets hung with the Blue Devils all game but the difference came down to capitalizing on chances.
“We played as well as we played all year,” Oneonta coach Jerry Mackey said. “I think we played even better today than the game we beat them. That’s a testament to their girls, being opportunistic and taking advantage when they got a couple of opportunities.”
The Yellowjackets won the second meeting between the two squads, 4-3, Sept. 9.
Both teams had two Grade A scoring opportunities and Chenango Forks converted both, proving to be the difference in an ultra-competitive match.
Emma Bough put the Blue Devils ahead 1-0 in the first half with individual effort that saw her weave around two Oneonta defenders before beating Yellowjackets goalie Liz Brantley.
Oneonta responded late in the frame on a beautiful free kick goal from Hannah Johnson about 20 yards out.
Chenango Forks then went up 2-1 in the second half after Lauren Ashman got behind the Yellowjackets defenders and sent a screamer on goal on the breakaway.
Late in regulation on a corner kick, Johnson sent a floater in from the right side and a Yellowjacket nearly tied if off a header, but the ball went just over the crossbar.
Oneonta mustered a few more bids before the final buzzer but fell for the third time this season to the four-time defending section champs.
“We kept them at 2-1 so it was pretty good,” Meredith Smithling said. “The few of us that are on defense have been together for four years now on this team and we’ve been playing against these same exact girls for four years so we’ve kind of learned how to take care of them the best we can.”
The Blue Devils had previously beaten the Yellowjackets, 8-2 and 7-0, with Saturday’s meeting being the fourth between the teams this season.
Chenango Forks finished with 14 shots and two corners while the Yellowjackets had six shots and five corners.
Liz Brantley recorded nine saves in goal for Oneonta and Bree Fargnoli made two stops.
”I’m so proud of the effort these girls gave because they started 10 months ago,” Mackey said. “They didn’t start gameday or a month ago, they wanted this enough to do things in the offseason and I was at least happy that they got rewarded a true, evenm competitive, two-quality-team soccer match and unfortunately, somebody’s got to move on.”
“We have heart,” Smithling added. “It showed in Waverly too. We were down 2-1, we came back and we won 3-2, in the last 10 minutes. I wish we could’ve done it here but I love this group of girls.”
The Yellowjackets boast nine seniors in Smithling, Morgan Jipson, Danielle Basdekis, Mary Brantley, Olivia Hanbridge, Olivia O’Donnell, Martine Hitchcock, Maria Farrell and Avery Burnsworth, and Mackey said he was proud of their leadership all year long.
“I don’t even know what to say, I love them so much,” Smithling said. “I’ve been playing with them since I learned how to walk. We played travel together my whole life and it’s unfortunate that we’ll never play soccer together again but I’m really glad I got to spend my 17 years of life playing soccer with them.”
Chenango Forks 2, Oneonta 1
Oneonta…. 1 0 – 1
Chenango Forks ..... 1 1 – 2
Oneonta: Hannah Johnson 1-0.
Chenango Forks: Emma Bough 1-0, Lauren Ashman 1-0.
Shots-corners: O 6-5; CF 14-2.
Goalies: Liz Brantley (O) 9; Bree Fargnoli (CF) 2.