ONEONTA — For Milford’s Addy Lawson, a sudden-victory goal in the Section Four Class D championship game wasn’t quite the same as a three-point shot at the buzzer.
But it was pretty close.
“She used her body to shield the defender and she was able to get a shot off and it found its way into the net,” Milford coach Chris Saggese said of Lawson’s winner, which came 1 minute, 16 seconds into the fourth overtime Saturday at the Wright National Soccer Campus to give the Wildcats a 1-0 victory over Cherry Valley-Springfield.
Sophomore forward Lawson, a basketball standout since seventh grade whose twitter handle @iamfuturekobe underlines her favorite sport, got the winner a little more than 106 minutes into the title game.
Lawson controlled a pass from Emilie Mertz on her knee, bodied up on Patriots defender Olivia Hull to protect the ball and took a dribble before executing a sliding kick as another defender approached. Her shot went into the upper-left corner of the goal.
“I took a touch around the defender, saw another one coming and just slid and got the shot off,” Lawson said. “Thankfully it went in.”
Lawson’s goal gave Milford its first sectional crown since 2010 and capped a three-game sweep of their Tri-Valley League East Division rivals this season.
“It was a coin flip who was going to win that game,” Saggese said. “It was an unbelievable game.”
The Patriots surely would agree, especially since they were on the wrong end of two controversial calls in the opening half.
Jordan Loucks appeared to give second-seeded CV-S (14-3-1) the lead with about nine minutes left before halftime, but she was called offsides after her high shot found the right corner of Milford’s net.
“We got the ball in the net first,” said CV-S coach Amy Garretson, whose team was well into its celebration before the referees waved off Loucks’ goal.
Said Saggese: “The thing about the three-man (referee) system is they’re not going to mess up on offsides calls. The referee is on the back line and they have a clear view of the play.”
Three minutes later, Lauren Loucks took a shot from outside the penalty box that appeared to deflect off the hand of Milford’s Hannah Saggese, who was inside the box. A handball call inside the box results in a penalty kick for the other team, but the referees’ whistles remained silent.
“It wasn’t a handball,” said Chris Saggese, adding that the ball hit his daughter in the collarbone.
Garretson again disagreed.
“It was a handball in the box,” she said. “What can you do? I just wanted to be sure we got our heads back into the game.”
Lauren Loucks had another solid scoring chance with 15 minutes left in regulation. After stealing the ball from a Milford defender, she dribbled a bit and took a long shot that hit the crossbar. The ball bounced back onto the field and Milford cleared it.
CV-S also threatened on a corner kick with about six minutes left in the second overtime, but Amanda Fish cleared Jordan Loucks’ serve from the right side after it landed inside the box and took a bounce. About two minutes later Jordan Loucks crossed a pass from the left to Lauren Loucks, who shot over the goal after touching the ball backwards to evade a defender.
Otherwise, both defenses produced standout efforts Saturday.
Milford’s Fish, Saggese, Mataiah Waters and Serena Chase often neutralized the speed of Jordan and Lauren Loucks. At the other end, Hull, Maddie Archer and Kaylie Yerdon frustrated the Wildcats by limiting the chances of top scorers Lawson, Mertz and Kaley Chase.
“We’re disappointed today, for sure, but we’ll rebound,” said Garretson, who received seven saves from Kyle Graham. “We have a great group of kids and a great community that supports us. I don’t think anyone expected us to get this far. I doubt anyone expected us to go into four overtimes with Milford and almost get to penalty kicks. We were just awesome today.”
Top-seeded Milford (18-1), which got five saves from Rukiye Henderson, will play Section Three champion Poland (16-2) this Saturday at a time and site to be determined. The Tornadoes, who are ranked No. 1 in the state, beat previously undefeated Copenhagen, 4-2, on Saturday to win their second straight section title.
“My ladies worked so hard and have been so dedicated,” Chris Saggese said. “But we still have some work left to do.”
Milford 1, CV-S 0
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Championship at WNSC
CV-S 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0
Milford 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 1
2-Cherry Valley-Springfield (14-3-1): None.
1-Milford (18-1): Addy Lawson 1-0, Emilie Mertz 0-1.
Shots-corner kicks: C 8-7; M 9-6.
Goalies: Kylie Graham (C) 7; Rukiye Henderson (M) 5.