ONEONTA — No. 5 seed Marathon completed its upset run through the Section IV Class D girls tournament Saturday, Nov. 2, with a 3-0 win over second-seeded Cherry Valley-Springfield at Wright National Soccer Campus.
The Olympians entered the playoffs with an 8-5-1 record, but have won four straight playoff games, including three against higher seeds.
"Cherry Valley has such a good team — I know I said this about Schenevus, too — but I don't think the score is indicative of how good the other team was," Marathon coach Beth Duncan said. "It seems like every team we played in Class D this year was so young. It is a credit to those teams, to be so young and to be so good already.
"Cherry Valley, they had three seniors. They'll be back again," she continued. "We have nine seniors. I told our girls, this is our time. This is our chance."
CV-S coach Denis DeRider said he was proud of his team's accomplishments this season, including a Tri-Valley tournament title and the trip to the championship game.
"We accomplished a ton this year," he said. "Every time we stepped onto the field, we represented Cherry Valley and Springfield really well. Our captains and our seniors did a really good job leading this team. And our junior class, it is a really big class with a lot of great players. Every time we came to play, we played our best."
CV-S had an early advantage in shots and controlled the field for much of the first half Saturday, but two direct kicks from about 30 yards out by senior defender Jenelle Short about a minute apart changed the momentum of the game. The first got knocked down by CV-S goalie Kelsey Girard, but she couldn't grab it. Marathon's Brooke Tillotson headed the ball back at the goal, it got deflected and Paige Hurlburt put the rebound into the net for a 1-0 lead with about 16:40 left in the half.
About a minute later, Short had another direct kick from about the same spot, but this time her kick went high into net to give the Olympians a 2-0 lead.
"It was an adjustment for us," DeRider said. "I don't think this year we had given up the first goal in any game."
Marathon increased its lead late in the second half when Abi Ensign collected a rebound and scored to make it 3-0 with 14:10 left in the game.
"Every game it seems like it is someone else who comes up big for us," Duncan said. "If you had told me before the game that we'd get two goals off of direct kicks by Jenelle, I am not sure I would have believed you."
Although the Patriots were the higher seed, DeRider said he never saw his team as the favorite.
"I never really looked at them as the underdogs," he said. "When the brackets came out, they were the first team I looked to find. They play in a tough conference (Interscholastic Athletic Conference) and they have a great coach. I am really impressed with the way she runs her program. They have beaten us three years in a row now in the playoffs, so I knew they were going to be tough to beat."
Marathon had the advantage in shots, 12-10, and corner kicks, 6-1. Girard had eight saves for CV-S and Kristi Walley had four saves for Marathon.
CV-S finished its season with a 16-2-1 record, and will graduate three seniors in June, Girard, Alana Latella and Kendra McGovern.
The Olympians will play the Section III Class D champions, Poland, in a regional playoff game scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, in Norwich. The Purple Tornadoes, who are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class D girls soccer, won their fourth straight section title — a tie with Cincinnatus last year counts toward that tally — with a 4-1 win over Copenhagen at SUNY Cortland on Friday, Nov. 1. Copenhagen's goal was the only one Poland gave up in the Section III tournament.
"I am OK with the underdog mentality," Duncan said. "The underdog mentality has gotten us this far, so we are going to ride with that."
Marathon 3, Cherry Valley-Springfield 0
Section IV Class D girls championship
At Wright National Soccer Campus
5-Marathon ..... 2 1 - 3
2-CV-S ..... 0 0 - 0
Marathon (12-5-1): Jenelle Short 1-1, Paige Hurlburt 1-0, Abi Ensign 1-0, Brooke Tillotson 0-1.
CV-S (16-2-1): None.
Shots-corners: M 12-6; C 10-1.
Goalies: Kristi Walley (M) 4; Kelsey Girard (C) 8.