LIVERPOOL – After playing Skaneateles to a 0-0 tie in the first half against a strong south-to-north wind, Oneonta looked like it was on course for a state semifinal appearance.
The Yellowjackets produced the game's best chances in the second half, but failed to capitalize as Skaneateles scored the game's lone goal with 22 minutes left to deal OHS a 1-0 defeat Saturday, Nov. 9, at Liverpool High School in a Class B boys soccer regional final.
"Well, it always looks good when you have the wind. But we had the same thing at Ithaca, and we couldn't figure out the wind," Oneonta coach Alex Brannan said. "We knew we had to score a goal to win, and they got it, so."
With Oneonta generating almost continuous pressure for the first 17 minutes of the second half, the game turned in the space of a minute. On the offensive end, Yellowjackets playmaker Matt Shultz took a pass from Dylan Davi on the right side and knifed through the Skaneateles back line. His pass back to the middle found Davi with plenty of time from 10 yards out, but his left-footed effort was right at Lakers goalkeeper Andrew Neumann, who pinned it under his body to end the opportunity.
Skaneateles headed back the other way and won a throw-in near the endline on the left side. The throw into the box was skimmed into the middle and reached Owen Cheney, whose left-footed effort hooked past Oneonta goalkeeper Brad Morell and in near the far post.
"We had a couple of really good opportunities, and right after the big one they came right down and scored," Brannan said. "But even after that we had chances and a couple of corners late. We just needed a little bit more composure."
The Yellowjackets continued to produce opportunities, with Finlay Oliver and Shultz each sending shot on goal at the clock hit 16 minutes, but each time Neumann was equal to it. Corner kicks and throws deep in the offensive end kept the pressure on for OHS, but Neumann's command of the air and a couple of timely blocks kept the Yellowjackets out.
Neumann finished with 10 saves, while Morell had five.
"He was definitely the player of the game," Skaneateles coach Aaron Moss said of Neumann. "He has really come a long way this year, and that's what you want as a coach for a young player and young man."
Oneonta finished with a 13-7 lead in shots after owning the second half, 11-2. The Lakers totaled an 8-6 edge in corners, with all eight coming in the first half.
The Yellowjackets defended for most of the first half but neither team generated any clear-cut opportunities. Morell was called into action on four occasions as the Lakers took a 5-2 shot advantage into halftime, but the half's best opportunity was a half-hearted call for an Oneonta handball with about 90 seconds left in the frame.
Brannan acknowledged at the break that a goalless draw was the first-half objective, and the difference was immediate as Morell's first punt of the second half covered 80 yards and turned into an opportunity for Oneonta forward E.J. Kavrazonis.
"Their coach said it. We have a really good team. But the bottom line is you have to score a goal," Brannan said. "It doesn't matter how good your team is, if you don't score, you're not moving on. And we didn't have the goal today, which is tough because we have."
The loss ends Oneonta's season at 16-3 and gives the Yellowjackets three straight losses in the regional finals.
Skaneateles 1, Oneonta 0
Oneonta ..... 0 0 - 0
Skaneateles ..... 0 1 - 1
Skaneateles: Owen Cheney 1-0.
Oneonta (16-3): None.
Shots-corners: S 7-8; O 13-6.
Goalies: Andrew Neumann (S) 10; Brad Morell (O) 5.