Thanksgiving Day was a day for youth, Team Youth.
Tanner Clinton's game winner sent the Youth side of Cooperstown Central School's annual alumni soccer Legends Game to its first win in the series, Thursday, Nov. 28, on the boys varsity pitch in the town of Otsego.
The game has been held every year since 1990, with Team Experience leading the series 28-0 going into last week's game. The Legends Game is open to any male or female varsity soccer player from Cooperstown Central School. The players are eligible for the game after they have played their final varsity game for the school. For five years, new alums of the program play for Team Youth, and previously, their hopes of being on the winning side were limited to a second graduation, to the Team Experience side.
However, that changed in 2019, as with the teams tied 2-2 late in the game, Justin Deichman lost his footing, which allowed Clinton an open path to the goal. Clinton finished his long run by slotting his left footed shot past Experience goalie Lucas Spencer into the ride side of the goal. Clinton celebrated by removing multiple layers of clothing before being mobbed by his teammates on the far sideline.
Youth’s Jimmy Donnelly broke free in transition early in the first half and was able to sneak it past Spencer for a 1-0 lead that would carry into halftime.
After the break, David Zoltick scored for the third straight year giving Youth a 2-0 advantage.
Experience came back as Matt Spencer hit a high shot from the left side that almost made it over Youth goalie Sean Mebust, who retreated and used every inch of his 6’ 5” frame to tip it over the crossbar.
On the ensuing corner, Spencer’s kick found Patrick Donnelly on the far post for a close range “knee-in.”
Shortly after, Experience’s Chris Grady sent a long shot that Mebust had trouble handling cleanly at the six. His brother, Matt Grady, raced to the loose ball near the penalty spot and put in the back of the net to even the score, 2-2.
Experience had an advantage in possession, and had several late chances for a tie, but Youth preserved the side's first win with its defense late.
Special Legends recognition for Dan Crowell who was home on 96 hour leave from his Army Reserves deployment in Somalia
MVP: Jimmy Donnelly.
Most Legendary: John Bobnick, Matt Spencer, Marty Smith and Michael Crampton.
Siblings: Matt and Lucas Spencer, Matt and Chris Grady, Andrew and Justin Deichman, Nick, Park and Gillis Summers, Sean and Ted Mebust, Max and Tanner Clinton and Jack and Kate Donnelly.
It was Coach Frank Miosek’s and Kate Donnelly’s birthday.