What ultimately prevented the Marcellus girls soccer team from advancing further in the state Class B playoffs was a powerful opponent with plenty of similar characteristics.
Schalmont, the undefeated defending state champions from the Section II ranks, maintained its perfect mark by defeating the Mustangs 2-1 in the regional round last Tuesday night at Fulton.
From start to finish, the game was a physical affair, neither side willingly giving up much ground, but what made the difference, especially in the first half, was that Schalmont relentlessly maintained possession of the ball, something that is normally a Marcellus hallmark.
And the Sabres got in front quickly, too. Just 1:43 into the game, amid a series of corner kicks, one of them, by Alexandra Cardinal, dropped into the area in front of goalie Margaret Choroser, where amid a scramble Allie Gallo fired home the go-ahead goal.
Throughout the rest of the first half, Marcellus found it difficult to clear the ball out of its own end, putting extra pressure on the defense. Gradually, though, the back line started to stabilize, and assured that the Mustangs stayed within a goal.
And it did so even though one of the defenders, Shannon Donahue, went down with an injury late in the first half. Nicole Wynne took her spot and, along with Meghan Witkowski, Jackie Epp and Alana Montreal, the unit remained solid.
But the Sabres’ pressure was relentless, and early in the second half, when Marcellus was again unable to clear the ball out, Schalmont’s Diana DiCocco fired a shot from the point past Choroser, increasing the Mustangs’ deficit to 2-0.
Only now did Marcellus start to pick up its attack. Barely two minutes after DiCicco’s goal, Brielle Filtch flew past the Sabres’ defenders for a point-blank shot at the net, only to have Schalmont goalie Taylor Gould grab it and hang on.