Anne Delaney

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Delaney: Snowy weather

For the third time in three days on Thursday, area high school soccer teams were affected by snow. I don't know if it's dear Mother Natue or poor snow-management skills, but the weather has had its way with the Section III soccer semifinals.

The Old Forge-Remsen Class D girls semifinal was delayed for a little more than an hour on Thursday afternoon while crews at Sauquoit Valley finished clearing the school's artifical turf field. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday at Sauquoit but was postponed because of snow. The game was re-scheduled a couple of times, including for Wednesday but couldn't be played because Old Forge didn't have school after the area received 12-16 inches of snow.

Sauquoit's field was covered by several inches of snow on Thursday morning and wasn't ready for the scheduled 3 p.m. kickoff. Hard work by the school's crew, helped by a bright, sunny afternoon, allowed the game to get under way a little after 4 p.m. The snow was slushy and wet - perfect for snowballs but not for soccer.

"In my opinion we were hit by a freak storm. It was a rare occurence," Remsen athletic director Dale Dening said Thursday. "I don't think Section III was prepared for this," Dening said. "I applaud Sauquoit Valley."

Sauquoit athletic director Frank Curriere said crews started work about 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. The clearing process took time because it had to be done in layers so the plows' blades wouldn't cut into the turf.

"The way the snow came and how much is why we're held back," Curriere said. "It's certain areas where the fields are being used and Section III wants to use the turf. It's the best facility."

The snow created trouble for the Section III finals, which were scheduled to start on Friday (Oct. 31) at two sites. With semifinal games still being played on Thursday night, Section III will have to wait until Friday morning to set the times of the championship games. Girls finals will be Friday and Saturday at Chittenango. The boys finals - at least some of the matches - be Saturday at Sauquoit Valley. A Class C boys semifinal between Cooperstown and Fabius-Pompey is scheduled for Friday evening at Waterville.

The snow at Sauquoit on Thursday wasn't an issue because of the game's early start time and the sun that helped with melting. The field was an obstacle at Chittenango for Whitesboro and ES-M and for the second half of the Poland-Lyme game.

So what's the answer for post-season games threatened by unpredictable Central New York weather? The Section III field hockey committee, apparently in possession of Doppler Radar, moved games to Thursday in anticipation of poor conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Smart, yes, but there are fewer teams/games to consider. There is a limiited window of opportunity to get in sectional and regional soccer games because the state semifinals and finals are locked in. The girls are Nov. 14-15 at Homer H.S./Cortland State and Tompkins-Cortland CC. The boys are Nov. 15-16 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta.

"I don't have any answers," said Old Forge coach Dave Leach, whose team made its second 90-minute trip to Sauquoit in three days on Thursday. Leach did say the state is proposing closed sectional tournaments, meaning teams must have a .400 winning percentage to get in. That would speed things along.

"We've had a nice fall, just not when we need it."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Delaney: Poland boys move on

The Poland boys soccer team is back in the Section III finals. The Class D top seed advanced to its fourth-straight final with a 2-1 win over Lyme on Wednesday.
All three goals were scored within five minutes of the first half in a match played on a snow-covered surface at Corcoran High School.
Brett Darrow and Dean Agen scored goals for Poland, and Richard Hazard added an assist. Cody Walker converted a PK to tie the game, 1-1 for Lyme. Agen's goal about two minutes later was the game winner.
The Tornadoes will play either Hamilton or Copenhagen in the finals this weekend at Sauquoit Valley. Second-seeded Hamilton, which lost its only two games to Poland during the CSC III regular season, will play Copenhagen at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Henninger High School.
If Hamilton advances to the final to face Poland, it will be the ninth time the teams have played since 2005. Poland is 5-2-1 against the Emerald Knights including a 2-1 win in the 2006 sectional final.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Delaney: Did the better team win?

The East Syracuse-Minoa/Whitesboro boys soccer game on Tuesday night should not have been played.

 

Too much was at stake in the Section III Class A semifinal for the match to be played on a snow-covered field at Chittenango High School. Tuesday's sectional game should have been postponed because the field conditions did not allow for a true measure of the teams' abilities.

 

Players struggled with the footing and were challenged to judge the speed of the ball, which more often than not stopped short of its intended target under the weight of the snow. Speed and possession soccer were taken out of the game at a time of year when those skills should be showcased.

 

East Syracuse-Minoa looked to be a very good team with some good players, but the Spartans scored in part because a Whitesboro defender slipped. The game could've have been delayed two days, the forecast is more favorable for Thursday, without jeopardizing the Section III finals schedule.

 
 
 

Delaney: More from Chittenango

It was a surreal scene at Chittenango High School on Tuesday for the East Syracuse-Minoa/Whitesboro boys soccer game. It was late-fall playoff soccer but the falling snow and wet leaves on the Chittenango track made for an odd scene - a pretty one with the snow hovering over the field but definitely strange.
 
While the snow was falling, boys were trying to play on a snow-covered field. A place in the Section III Class A finals was at stake. The evening was not unbearably cold and it wasn't windy. The snowflakes were big and wet and hindered visibility from one end of the field to the other. It didn't help the teams' were playing with a white ball.
 
Section III boys soccer chairman Charlie Engle and Chittenengo High School personnel shoveled snow off the lines on the field throughout the game. The first thing I thought about was the National Football League Snowplow game. During a snowy December 1982 game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., then-Patriots coach Ron Meyer brought a stadium snowplow driver onto the field to clear a patch of snow for a field goal attempt.  John Smith made the kick and the Patriots won, 3-0.
 
There was just one score in Tuesday's soccer game. ES-M's Adam Rowell scored a first-half goal in a 1-0 win.
 
 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Delaney: Not quite Clinton's turn

The Clinton boys are a good soccer team.
The young, young Warriors are not quite capable of winning a Section III title.
That's not a knock; the future is very bright for longtime coach Gil Palladino, who had six freshman and one senior starting Monday's Class B quarterfinal against Lowville.
 
Lowville, which advances after a shootout, wasn't nearly as skilled as Clinton, but the fifth-seeded Red Raiders got solid goalkeeping from Zach Haenlin and they tightened up their defense noticeably in the second half to contain the speedy Warriors. Defense has been the name of the game all season. Lowville allowed eight goals during the regular season. After two sectional games, the Red Raiders have given up 12 to earn a place in the semifinals for the third-straight season.
 
"I don't need to score four goals to win a game," Lowville coach Chris Riley said. "We want to win a 1-0 game and let our goalkeeper do his stuff."
 
Clinton defeated Lowville, 1-0 in the semifinals two years ago on the way to a sectional title. This group of Warriors play well with the ball and they dominated the midfield against Lowville, which found itself back on its heels after Brian Zehr's goal 23 seconds in. Clinton, with its youth, has trouble finishing. 
 
"We controlled the midfield," Palladino said. "We have to work very hard to score goals." 
 
In front of Haenlin, Lowville's defense was buoyed late by the play of Cody Carpenter, A.J. Capone and Cody Farney. Carpenter, who converted the game-winning PK, thwarted good opportunity by Clinton's Steve Abdoo late in regulation. Abdoo had Carpenter one-on-one but the Red Raiders' defender played the ball perfectly. He turned his body to avoid getting caught flat-footed and was patient until a teammate arrived for support.
 
Farney sat on the bench during the team's last four games because he wasn't a good match-up against Lowville opponents. When his replacement became ill, Farney filled in and did a nice job in one play defending Clinton sophomore Benjamin Hobaica, who might have been the fastest guy on the field.
 
 
 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Delaney: Raiders respond to wake-up call

Not only did the Canastota field hockey team have to play top-seeded Mount Markham in a Class C semifinal on Saturday morning, the game started at 9 a.m. A six-game field hockey marathon was scheduled at Sauquoit Valley High School’s turf field on Saturday, but only half the games were played because of rain.

Fourth-seeded Canastota scored two first-half goals to take the opener. The Raiders (11-5-4) advance to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Class C final against No. 3 Cazenovia at Homer. Cazenovia advanced with 2-0 win over Holland Patent in the other ‘C’ semifinal. Class D No. 1 Little Falls moved on with a 1-0 win over Hamilton. The Mounties (17-2) will play the winner of today’s Cooperstown-New York Mills game in Wednesday’s ‘D’ final at 5 p.m. at Homer.

Canastota’s bus left at 7 a.m. and the Raiders had plenty of time to tend to taping and their pre-game routine before Mount Markham arrived. The team had a pasta dinner on Friday evening but the players gave going to the school’s football game to get their sleep.

“I told them ‘you’re in bed by 9 p.m.,’” Raiders coach Trish Micaroni said.

Micaroni has 8 a.m. Saturday practices during the season so the start time wasn’t completely foreign. Early in the first half, though, Micaroni saw some effects of ‘bus legs’ and called a timeout. It worked. After the pep talk, Canastota scored twice.

“It’s the dedication of the kids. It’s important to them.”



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Delaney: Don't look back

Cory Rowland's high school soccer career ended on Wednesday night.
The skilled Ilion senior forward was held without a point in a 4-1 home sectional playoff loss to Skaneateles. Rowland ends his four years at Ilion with 61 goals - second on the school's goal list behind his uncle, Brad Sweeney, who scored 66 in 3-plus varsity seasons before graduating in 1996.
 
Rowland had a crack at breaking Sweeney's mark, but now it seems a one-game suspension earlier this month was costly. Rowland got a red card (two yellows) for arguing a call earlier this month in a match against Mohawk. He had to sit out Ilion's next game which was against Adirondack, the team with the worst record in CSC I. Rowland scored five goals in two games after the suspension so it's tough to think he wouldn't have gotten closer with time against the Wildcats.
 
I hope the record wasn't too important for Rowland. He understood what his suspension meant - for himself and his team - and when I asked him about the record after his return, he took a "it depends on sectionals" approach. Now that he has fallen short of Sweeney's record, I hope Rowland doesn't ask himself 'What if?'
 
Rowland is a terrific player with talent to play at the next level. Ilion coach Jim Mott said that is Rowland's interest. I hope he asks himself 'what's next?'
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Delaney: Hands off

There is a time on a soccer field when even the goalkeeper can't use his or her hands.
 
I saw it on Tuesday during the West Canada Valley-Mohawk girls Section III playoff game. A West Canada Valley defender played the ball with her feet back to Indians keeper Rachael Dygert. Dygert picked up the ball and was called for a hand ball. Mohawk was awarded an indirect kick and Alex Kryshchuk tied the game.
 
Dygert can pick up the ball if the defender plays it with her head, chest or thigh. If a field player uses any body part below the knee, the keeper has to use his or her feet.
 
This is a rule I always had a hard time keeping straight and I was glad to get clarification.
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Delaney: Three area soccer teams first-time No. 1 seeds

At Poland and even Mount Markham, a top-seeded boys soccer team is old hat in the Section III Tournament. 
 
But for the Whitesboro and Mohawk boys - and the Remsen girls - the No. 1 seed is special. Those three first-time top seeds joined the Poland and Mount Markham boys as the Utica area schools at No. 1 for the Section III Tournament that starts this week. 
 
In the five-class boys tournament, four of the No. 1 seeds are from the Utica area. The exception is Class AA Baldwinsville from the Syracuse area. It's been a while since so many Utica schools got No. 1s, a fact that wasn't lost on longtime Mount Markham coach Charlie Engle. Whitesboro coach Ben Karas felt a sense of gratification for his Class A Warriors, who clinched the Tri Valley League last week. The Warriors don't have as deep a soccer history as at Poland and Mount Markham.
 
"I'm really excited for my kids," Karas said.
 
Mohawk coach Gabe Whittaker was also thrilled and Remsen girls coach Jim Wilder called the top seed "quite an honor."  The Mohawk boys and Remsen girls are both undefeated.
 
Remsen was the only Utica area girls team to get a No. 1 seed. Camden, Clinton and Sauquoit Valley are No. 2s.  
 
There is good high school soccer in the Utica area and a strong fanbase, even if that doesn't always translate to attendance.  Afternoon start times have a lot to do with that. There will be night games during the Section III Tournament and we'll see if the top seeds can light up the fans.
 
 

Delaney: Sauquoit Valley's turf in for a workout

Sauquoit Valley will be one of the busiest high schools in Section III through early November. And maybe one of the richest after Section III uses the high school's artificial turf field for field hockey and soccer playoff games.

The action at Sauquoit will begin on Saturday with six field hockey games beginning at 9 a.m. Mount Markham will meet either Sherburne or Canastota in a Class C continental breakfast semifinal game. Holland Patent will play either Cazenovia or Herkimer at 11 a.m. The rest of the day: Class B semifinals at 3 and 5 and Class D semifinals at 1 and 7.

The Section III boys soccer finals will be played at Sauquoit on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 because of a conflict at Cortland State. Game times are to be determined.



Delaney: Section III soccer finals relocate

Because of scheduling conflict at Cortland State, the Section III boys and girls soccer finals will be played at separate locations.
 
About three weeks ago, Cortland State notified the Section III office of the conflict and the section had to find other sites for the boys and girls finals. The college apparently did a double take after the fact and re-invited Section III back to its turf fields, but the office had already made other arrangements.
 
The boys finals will be at Sauquoit Valley, game times are TBA, and the girls will play at Chittenango High School. 
 
The site switch is disappointing for the athletes because Cortland State is a grand setting. There are games on two fields, which is convenient if girls and boys teams from one school advance, and with a spacious press box it's easy for a deadline-challenged reporter to keep track of both games when necessary.
 
Section III soccer chairmen - Charlie Engle for the boys and Peter Lautensack for the girls - might have to make adjustments on start times if teams from one school do advance to allow fans to get from one site to another.
 
 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Delaney: Section III Tournament pairings out on Sunday

Section III tournament pairings for boys and girls soccer and field hockey will be announced on Sunday. We should have the information by midafternoon. Check www.uticaod.com for details.
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Delaney: Brothers add spark, spontaneity to Mustangs

Tayron Ixlaj and his brother Darvin Juarez, forwards on the Mount Markham boys soccer team, change the game when they are on the field for the Mustangs. The boys, who are originally from Guatemala, have speed, skill, instincts and a touch on the ball unlike their American counterparts.
 
The only thing Tayron, junior, and Darvin, a freshman, don't have is size. Neither boy is taller than about 5-foot-5 and they can be knocked off the ball.  But when Tayron, 17, and the 14-year-old Darvin have the ball on their feet, they are in complete control and beautiful to watch. The brothers play at a rapid pace with crisp passes to the space where they expect their teammates to be.
 
"Last year we were OK," said Mount Markham senior defender Brad Kobler. "But with those two, we've come together."
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Delaney: Poland gets Hamilton again

The area's best high school soccer rivalry just got better.

Kenny Miller scored a late goal for the Poland boys soccer team on Tuesday as the Tornadoes clinched the Center State Conference Division III title with a wild, 4-3 win over rival Hamilton.

"It was an exceptional game," Hamilton coach Brian Latella said.

Miller scored three goals for the undefeated Tornadoes (11-0-0, 15-0-2).

Latella said Poland took the lead three times and the Emerald Knights responded each time with the tying goal - the last time with 4:51 remaining on a goal by Tyler White. Miller, a junior forward who is Poland's leading scorer, then tallied his 13th goal of the season 40 seconds later to give the Tornadoes another win over Hamilton (9-2, 14-2). Poland has won four of the last six matches between the teams dating back to the 2006 Section III Class D final.

Chances are good the schools will meet again during the upcoming Section III Tournament.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Delaney: Hamilton, Clinton interesting experience

I didn't know what to expect when I got to Norton Avenue Field on Monday morning.  I knew the Clinton girls were hosting Hamilton Central and I thought it would be an interesting interclass match. Strike up the band, I was right.
 
Both teams have been competitive in their respective classes the last few seasons. They are state ranked - Clinton entered 11th in Class B and Hamilton 9th in Class D.  Clinton had a definite advantage on offense, pressuring the Hamilton defensive third all day. Hamilton's defense held up in the face of the Warriors' dominance because of terrific play by Emerald Knights keeper Kylie Martin. Hamilton defender Lucy Campbell, an all-state player, also had a good game and at times I thought she was the best player on the field. Campbell was around the ball in both plays that led to Clinton goals, though the Warriors scored late in 2-0 OT win and Campbell might have been tired from chasing the offense all over the field
 
The game was good for Hamilton; it's always good for a team to play up. Clinton got a good non-league game, though if the Warriors put away one or two of their chances it could have been lopsided.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Delaney: Saturday night at the office

Grace Riker is closer to a Section III record.
The Mount Markham field hockey goalie got another shutout earlier this week to give the Mustangs senior 40 for her career, tying her with former VVS goalie Kelly Snizek. Riker has been shutout for No. 41 in her last two starts - Little Falls defeated the Mustangs, 1-0 on Friday (Oct. 10) and though Mount Markham got back in the winning column on Saturday against Mohawk, the Mohicans did get one in the cage. 
 
The Sauquoit Valley girls soccer team won again on Saturday and it looks like the Indians have a handle on the CSC Division II title. The Indians have been playing well lately and are 8-1 in league and 12-2-2 overall. 
 
The New Hartford boys, still playing without five suspended starters, defeated Class AA Rome Free Academy, 2-0 on Saturday. Shaun Hadity and Dennis Halpin scored for the Spartans. I don't know how the New Hartford is doing it.  

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Delaney: Longtime coming for Sauquoit Valley girls

The Sauquoit Valley girls soccer team's 6-2 win over Cooperstown on Monday was the Indians' first home victory against the Redskins in 15 years.
 
The Rome Free Academy boys and girls soccer teams both tied Cicero-North Syracuse on Thursday. The RFA girls got a goal from Sarah Southwell to get a 1-1 draw at home with the Northstars. Dominic DiMaggio had to make 20 saves to help the Black Knights boys team to a scoreless tie at Cicero.
 
The Oct. 2-8 state girls soccer poll includes four area teams in the rankings. Clinton (11-1-2) is 19th in Class B, Mohawk (10-1-1) is 17th in Class C, Remsen (16-0) is 7th in Class D and Hamilton (11-1-3) is 10th in Class D.
 
The girls Section III Class D tournament is shaping up to be a good one. The class has three state-ranked teams to this point, topped by No. 3 McGraw. Unranked Madison and Old Forge should also be in the mix.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Delaney: Good days for Mustangs, Spartans; Wildcats rock CSC girls soccer

Mount Markham field hockey goalie Grace Rikker is closing in on a Section III record. The Mustangs senior, a four-year starter, has 39 shutouts and needs one more to tie the Section III record. Vernon-Verona-Sherrill's Kelly Snizek got her 40th shutout in 2005. Riker, now with a 58-14-4 record, has five chances to tie and break Snizek's mark. Mount Markham hosts Ilion on Wednesday (Oct. 8); then the Mustangs play at Little Falls on Friday in a game for the CSC East title; and at Mohawk on Saturday morning; and home games against Cooperstown (Oct. 14) and New York Mills (Oct. 16).
 
The Mount Markham boys soccer team clinched at least a tie of the CSC Division II title with a 2-0 win over Cooperstown on Tuesday.
 
The girls soccer game of the day on Tuesday was a Tri Valley League rematch between New Hartford and unbeaten Clinton. New Hartford avenged an early season loss to the Warriors with a 2-1 win. Class B Clinton is 8-1-2 and 10-1-2. New Hartford, the team one TVL opponent said is the best team in the league, is 9-1-1 and 10-5-1.
 
The Adirondack girls soccer team's 1-0 upset of Herkimer on Monday was an upset that could upset the balance of power in CSC I. Herkimer's loss makes its Wednesday (Oct. 9) showdown with Mohawk very interesting. Both teams have one loss since Herkimer defeated the Mohicans earlier in the year. The other key result on Monday was CSC III teams Hamilton and Oriskany playing to 1-1 draw.
 

Delaney: Mohawk boys worthy unbeatens

The mystery has been solved, at least in my own mind, and I can stop wondering: how good is the Mohawk boys soccer team?
 
Finally I saw the Mohicans play. On Tuesay afternoon, Mohawk defeated CSC I rival Ilion, 3-0, to remain unbeaten and clinched Mohawk's first league title, according to coach Gabe Whittaker, a 1999 Mohawk graduate. Whittaker has a nice way on the sideline: calm, cool and always teaching while players, fans and assistant coaches get caught up in the game.
 
The Mohicans are a good team. They're physical, more physical than skilled, it seems, but that's not a knock. How physical they can play is up to the officials to decided game-by-game. Mohawk is playing to its strength with its strength. There are some big boys on the field for Whittaker, including leading scorer John LeClair who was a one-time football player at Mohawk. Among the team's scoring triumvirate - LeClair, Andrew Fleming and Ryan Lundquist - none are lacking in size. LeClair and Fleming are taller than Lundquist, but the latter is stocky, scrappy and not easy to knock off the ball. Defender Bob Morgan might be the biggest Mohawk player with a strong foot to...ahh, boot.
 
 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Delaney: Torrez, Dent comfortable with their places in history

Looking tanned and relaxed, Mike Torrez and Bucky Dent stood to shake my hand.
 
We talked about the A.L. East Division playoff game on Oct. 2, 1978 - as was my assignment. Dent hit the game-winning home run off then-Red Sox pitcher Torrez to help the Yankees win the division title 5-4 in Fenway Park. The Yankees went on to win the World Series for the second consecutive yearand Dent was the MVP.
 
I couldn't help but notice how content they were with their respective places in baseball history -- especiallly Torrez. Maybe I expected him to be a reluctant participant in a fundraising event at St. Peter's School earlier this week considering he's was the so-called goat that afternoon in Fenway Park. Maybe I was so caught up in what I was doing, I didn't stop to realize Torrez had had 30 years to adjust.
 
I think people in my profession, sports reporters and sportscasters, tend to pin one defining moment of glory or failure on an athlete. We don't always look beyond the heroics or gaffe to see there's more to the play and, often, the person than we first thought.
 
 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Delaney: 6 area soccer teams state ranked

With 2 1/2 weeks until the Oct. 19 seeding meeting, the number of area state-ranked high school soccer teams is dwindling.
Six are in the latest rankings, including the undefeated Mohawk boys and Hamilton Central boys and girls teams.
The girls teams are: Clinton (11th in Class B), Hamilton (5th Class D) and Remsen (11th Class D). The boys are: Mohawk (5th in Class C), Poland (6th in Class D) and Hamilton (11th in Class D).
 
Nine area teams were among the state-ranked schools the last time I posted on this space, on Sept. 24. The teams that dropped out were: Mount Markham and Cooperstown boys and the Mohawk girls.
 
Still ranked - #1 in boys Class D - is Chazy with a 12-1 record.