Anne Delaney

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Delaney: Hamlin still on track for Vancouver

Erin Hamlin's ninth-place finish at the luge World Cup series race in Igls, Austria on Saturday, while I'm sure disappointing to her, does not hurt her chances to make her second Olympic team.

Entering the season Hamlin was pre-qualified for Whistler, the Olympic track outside of Vancouver that will host the luge competition in February. She needed a top-five finish in one of the first four fall races to secure her place on the Olympic team.

The short track in Igls looked to be her best best to do that. Hamlin had her World Cup series-best fourth place in Igls last year. She said in October she was glad the track was a stop in the first half of the season.

As the reigning World Champion and top American female singles slider, Hamlin is very much in contention for a spot on the U.S. team. She has two top nine finishes in the first two races of the season. She was seventh in Calgary in the season opening race and the ninth in Igls. Those results keep her on the USA Luge priority ladder to get to the Olympics.

She has two more fall series races to complete her pre-qualified status and get to Vancouver the easy way. World Cup series racing continues Dec. 5-6 in Altenberg, Germany and Dec. 12-13 in Lillehammer, Norway. Hamlin has not raced in Lillehammer in several years but finished second there as a junior.

Should she fail to get a top five at either of those races, Hamlin would have to wait until later in the year to be named to the Olympic team. Her results this season are the best among American women, and so it seems hard to imagine she won't get a spot.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Delaney: Alcott Family Affair

It was a familiar scene for the Alcott family of New Hartford in the lobby of the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Five years ago, Kate and Steve Alcott watched as their son Mike, then a junior midfielder, was honored with his New Hartford soccer teammates for their Class A state championship in Oneonta.

The Alcotts, including Mike (now a senior at Penn State), returned to watch as youngest son Pat was honored with the Spartans soccer team for its state runner-up finish Sunday in the Oneonta museum.

Defending Class A champion Comsewogue from Port Jefferson Station defeated the Section III champions 2-0 on two second-half goals in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association final.

“This is our last hurrah,” said Kate of Pat, a midfielder like his brother and one of four team captains. “This is our last child. It’s nostalgic and sad.”

“These are the first games I’ve seen,” Mike said. “They looked a lot like our team, scrappy and cohesive.”
Comsewogue’s Keith Vigorito finally cracked through the New Hartford defense with the first goal in the 47th minue. Mackie Magoulas scored with 3:05 left to seal it.

“They scored the first goal and I think it broke us,” Kate said.

Pat Alcott was not the only member of this year’s team with ties to the 2004 squad. Senior defender Kevin Jerrard is the brother of Erik Jerrard who was a defender in 2004.

“I am very grateful my kids had this high school experience,” Kate Alcott said. “It’s something they’ll never forget.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Delaney: Clive enjoying the ride

Coaches, at least many of the scholastic coaches I talk to, don't take a lot of credit for their team's success.

Does that mean they take the blame when a team struggles? I don't know. I'm going to find out, for sure. All I know is, when I ask coaches what a big win means to them, how do they feel about it as a competitor, the answer is often the same:

"It's about the kids." Yes, true to a point. A high school team from what I've seen is a team of players and coaches. Players have a role, coaches have a role and they're all important in mixing up a winner.

Reluctantly, Sauquoit Valley girls soccer coach Tim Clive admitted feeling good with his role on the Indians' team. Sauquoit Valley plays Section XI Stony Brook for the state Class C championship at 9 a.m. today (Nov. 21) at Cortland State.

"It makes me feel, you take a deep breath and say it's all worth," Clive said.

The 63-year-old has been coaching soccer for 32 years, 17 of those with the Sauquoit Valley girls. There were another 16 with the Indians' girls basketball team and he's getting his first sniff of a state semifinal appearance.

Sauquoit Valley (22-0) defeated Section VI Frewsburg 1-0 in Friday's semifinal.

"You don't do it for the money," Clive said. "I feel very content right now in my coaching career. It's very gratifying on my end."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Delaney: English lads in New Hartford

A couple of English-born lads are helping the New Hartford boys soccer team in its quest to win another New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A title.

Ben Toach and Joel Kamilow will both get plenty of minutes this weekend when the Spartans (19-2) play Section I Byram Hills in a state semifinal at 9 a.m. Saturday at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta. New Hartford shared the 2004 Class A title in its first appearance in the state Final Four.

Toach, a starter, is a junior midfielder and forward with 9 goals and 10 assists. Kamilow, also a junior, plays the same positions. He has 9 goals and 2 assists.

Coincidentally, both young men came to the U.S. seven years ago when they were 10. Toach is from New Castle Upon Tyne on the coast in North East England. Kamilow was born and raised in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, which is also on the coast in North East England. Harrogate and New Castle Upon Tyne are 89 miles apart.

"The accent went away after three years," Toach said. "Some words it comes back."

Their experience with soccer in England were drastically different. Toach had a ball on his foot as soon as he could walk. Toach's parents, David and Jill, were born in England, and Ben lived and breathed the game. David Toach works for Con Med and is the junior varsity coach at New Hartford.

"Over there you want to play non stop," Ben said. "It's on your mind all of the time."

Kamilow was born and raised in rural area and did not play formally until he came to the United States.

"I never played with refs, organized," he said. "When I came here, there was AYSO, signed up and I decided to play."

Kamilow's mother, Hazel, is English. His father John is American and the Kamilows met while John was in England with the military. They are now divorced and Hazel lives in France.

Ben and Joel both had a hard time moving to a new country. Toach, especially, left behind his entire family. He also has a younger sister, Jess.

"I loved it," he said. "The food there is great."

Kamilow's adjustment was made easier by meeting many of his current teammates. But there are often reminders of where he came from.

"People always want to hear your accent," he said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Delaney: Sunday's game of the day? Not Pats-Colts

The New England Patriots-Indianapolis Colts game Sunday night was mildly entertaining.
A solid seven on a scale of 1 to 10.

The game of the day Sunday was in Morgantown, West Virginia. The St. John’s University and University of Notre Dame men’s soccer teams met for the Big East Tournament title.

Tough to beat that action. The then-unranked Fighting Irish, who had the better of the play for most of the match, against the 24th-ranked Red Storm. Both teams No. 2 seeds in their respective divisions.

Burly Notre Dame forward Bright Dike was entertaining. The Big East Offensive Player of the Year muscled his way through the Red Storm defense a couple of times and picked up a yellow card on an interesting call. Dike, Notre Dame’s leading scorer, had at least two chances and maybe three good shots at the St. John’s net but ended up with near misses.

The match was scoreless through regulation – Notre Dame had 11 shots to 9 for St. John’s. Two politically correct sudden-victory overtime sessions were also scoreless.

St. John’s (9-2-9) took home the trophy, 5-3 in penalty kicks. The match was the third decided on PKs for Notre Dame (10-7-4), which finished the tournament 0-0-3.

Both teams received bids to the NCAA Tournament. St. John’s got the Big East automatic bid and will host either Dartmouth or Boston College on Sunday. Notre Dame hosts Wisconsin-Green Bay Thursday with the winner playing at Northwestern on Sunday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Delaney: Not winter yet

I was driving west on Oriskany Boulevard late this afternoon when I noticed the sun setting. It was a beautiful strip of orange light in the sky.

It was not even 5 p.m. Winter's coming, I thought. I dread it.

On the way back to the office, travelling east on Oriskany Boulevard, I noticed another Mohawk Valley sign of the changing seasons. Voss' Bar-B-Q was closed up. The picnic tables were turned on their sides and chained to the front of the building, as if protecting it from the impending winter. Wasn't it just days ago people waited in line?

The separate scenes reminded me of lyrics from the Billy Joel song 'Famous Last Words.'

Sitting here in Avalon, looking at the pouring rain
Summertime has come and gone and everybody's home again
Closing down for the season, I found the last of the souvenirs
I can still taste the wedding cake and it's sweet after all these years.

Delaney: Three area soccer teams ready for state semifinals

Three Utica-area soccer teams play state semifinal games this weekend.

The Class C No. 1 Sauquoit Valley girls (21-0) play Section VI champion Frewsburg at 9 a.m. Friday at Homer High School. In the other semifinal, Stony Brooks meets Plattsburgh Seton Catholic at 9 a.m. Friday at Tompkins-Cortland Community College. The Class C championship game is 9 a.m. Saturday at Cortland State.

The New Hartford and Hamilton Central boys teams play semifinals Saturday at the National Soccer Hall of Fame Complex in Oneonta. Class A New Hartford plays at 9 a.m. vs. Byram Hills of Section I. Class D Hamilton plays Section VII Chazy at 1 p.m. in a rematch of last year's final.

Hamilton scored three goals in the final 18 minutes of regulation against Chazy last year, and Dan Kraynak gave the Emerald Knights the title with a goal 41 seconds into overtime of a 4-3 win.

State-ranked No. 1 Chazy (18-0-2) returns to the state semifinals with a young team according to a story in the Lake Placid News. Chazy coach Rob McAuliffe said in a November 14 story the Eagles start three freshman and two sophomores.

Chazy has won 11-straight Section VII titles and state championships in 2004, 2005 and 2007 according to a Chazy Varsity Boys Soccer Alumni page on Facebook.

Delaney: Hansen clinches spot on luge national team

Kate Hansen, a 17-year-old from LaCanada, Calif., won the fourth of four USA Luge race-offs Sunday to clinch a spot on the women's World Cup National team.

Hansen's two-run time of 1-minute, 40.975 seconds assures her of racing with the US National team for the first two World Cup series races in Calgary and Igls, Austria.

In this blog last week I incorrectly wrote that Hansen and 16-year-old Emily Sweeney locked up spots on the U.S. fall World Cup team. I should have used the words 'may have locked up spots.' At the time, Hansen and Sweeney were in first and second place, respectively, after three of the four team race offs.

After Sunday's racing in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada - the site of the luge venue for the February Olympics - Hansen made the U.S. team with Megan Sweeney, who was second. Reigning World Champion Erin Hamlin and Julia Clukey, who was fifth at the World Championships earlier this year, already earned spots for the fall team.

Emily Sweeney, a junior national championship bronze medalist, was fourth in Sunday's race off and will compete in the first two Nations Cup events of the season.

If either Hansen, Megan Sweeney or Clukey fail to get a top nine finish in one of the first two World Cup competitions, they will will face Emily Sweeney in a race off for the third World Cup stop in Altenberg, Germany.

Out of the mix for the World Cup team is two-time Olympian Courtney Zablocki. Zablocki, 28, was eliminated from the race-offs last week. Ashley Walden, a 2002 Olympian, was eliminated from World Cup team contention in Sunday's race-off in Whistler. Walden was third behind Hansen and Megan Sweeney.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Delaney: Six teams, three sites for state regionals

Four area boys and girls soccer teams and two field hockey teams play state regional games this weekend.

The Sauquoit Valley girls soccer team is only one of the six not playing regional games in Section III on Saturday. The Class C undefeated and state-ranked No. 1 Indians (20-0) travel to Ithaca High School for a 1 p.m. match against No. 2 Elmira Notre Dame.

The Camden and RFA field hockey teams are involved in a tripleheader Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Class B Camden plays Maine-Endwell at 12 p.m. (noon), Class A RFA meets Greene (17-0) at 2 p.m. and Cazenovia follows at 4 p.m.

There is also a boys soccer tripleheader Saturday at Chittenango High School. Cooperstown, Hamilton and New Hartford are involved in a day-long series of matches with spots in the state semifinals on the line. Class C Cooperstown meets Marathon at 11 a.m., Class D Hamilton plays Margaretville at 1:15 p.m. and New Hartford meets Massena at 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Delaney: Jeckos in goal

Vanessa Jecko isn't the only goalkeeper in her house.

Jecko, a Sauquoit Valley sophomore, is the keeper for undefeated Indians girls soccer team. Her twin sister, Jessica, is the goalie on the Sauquoit Valley field hockey team.

The 15-year-old Jecko sisters both played soccer until 7th grade. Jessica, who's an hour older, went to field hockey for something different. She played a field position for a while but then tried goalie and found she liked the contact.

Vanessa Jecko moved to goal about the same time as her sister because of asthma that made it difficult for her to play on the field.

"It keeps me involved in what's happening," Vanessa said.

Despite the differences in their sports, the Jeckos help each other improve their goalie skills. Each have to have good footwork. In the backyard, Vanessa gets a field hockey stick and takes shots on Jessica. The girls and their father, Jim, also go to a field on the Sauquoit Valley campus and shoot balls at a goal for Vanessa.

"I like watching when she makes a great save and everyone goes 'Oh,'" Jessica said. "It's great to watch."

It's not always a pretty sight when a field hockey goalie runs on and off the field. A jog to the bench can be a cumbersome activity.

"With all of the equipment, you think she's going to fall one time," Vanessa said.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Delaney: Holland Patent's Felice recognized at C-NS

Former Holland Patent field hockey coach and athletic director Barb Felice was honored Saturday evening between Section III championship games at Cicero-North Syracuse.

The 2009 Section III field hockey program is dedicated to Felice, and she was recognized after RFA defeated Liverpool 1-0 to win the Class A title.

Felice, who was born and raised in Utica, coached Holland Patent to six Tri Valley League titles, five Section III titles, two state regional championships and two appearances in the state Final Four. Felice's coaching record with the Golden Knights was 158-86-41.

Felice was a three-sport athlete at Utica Catholic Academy and at Bridgeport University. She was the fourth female to serve as Section III president (2002-2004) and Felice held other positions within the organization including vice president of girls sports and on the athletic council.

A deserved honor for Felice, who was always gracious with her time as a coach and administrator and willing to explain issues related to Section III sports. Congratulations Barb.

Delaney: Kraynak, not Hamilton, outperforms Poland

Poland boys soccer coach Greg Haver was subdued Friday evening.

Understandable. Haver's Tornadoes just lost their fourth-consecutive match and second-straight Class D final to rival Hamilton.

No shame there, though. Hamilton is the defending Class D state champion and its four wins over Poland were all by one goal. The first three, dating back to last year's sectional final, were 1-0 games. On Friday, Hamilton came from behind twice to win 3-2 on a cold evening at Waterville High School.

Haver, who won the 2005-2007 Class D titles at Poland, said his team was outplayed by the fourth-seeded and state unranked Emerald Knights.

I do not think Poland was outplayed the entire game. Hamilton definitely had the upper hand - or foot, preferably - in the first 22 minutes of the match. Then Poland scored a beautiful transition goal in the 19th minute and the quality of Poland's play improved.

The Tornadoes did not have an answer for Hamilton midfielder-forward Dan Kraynak. The junior scored two long-range goals on well-struck, hard shots both from at least 25 yards out. Poland either did not account for Kraynak taking those shots or they failed to defend properly.

"I can't think of another kid who shoots from that distance and puts them on goal," Haver said. "He's a great player. We tried to get out on him. He's a great enough player that we get out on him and he gets around you."

Delaney: An 'A' for RFA and Liverpool stick skills

There was a noticeable difference in the quality of stick skills among Class A field hockey players Saturday from the Class B athletes in two Section III championship games at Cicero-North Syracuse Saturday.

Overall, the Class A Rome Free Academy and Liverpool athletes showed themselves to be better stick handlers in their final at the Michael J. Bragman Athletic Complex.

The RFA and Liverpool players regularly controlled a ball in the air with the stick, or quickly changed directions while maintaining possession. A long pass in the Class A game was more likely to land on a teammates' stick than in the Class B final between Vernon-Verona-Sherrill and Camden.

RFA coach Linda Harjung said artificial turf is one reason for the difference. RFA and Liverpool both play home games on turf, as does Camden. VVS's home field is grass.

The faster artificial surface allows players to improve and develop better stick skills than athletes who play a majority of games on grass.

"We also have a lot of ice hockey players and that is a huge help," Harjung said.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Delaney: Poland, Hamilton boys in Round III

For the second-consecutive season, and third time in four years, the Hamilton and Poland Central boys soccer teams will play for a Section III Class D title.

The teams will play either Friday or Saturday at site and time to be determined. Regardless of the site, second-seeded Poland (15-3) will be the home team. Defending Section III and state champion Hamilton (15-3-1) is the fourth seed.

Hamilton advanced on Dan Kraynak's hat trick in a 3-0 semifinal win over top-seeded and state-ranked No. 11 Copenhagen Tuesday. Dean Agen scored a late goal for Poland in its 1-0 win over Cincinnatus.

Hamilton enters the final with a three-match winning streak - all 1-0 wins - against Poland (15-3). The Emerald Knights defeated Poland in last year's sectional final and also swept both regular-season games.

Hamilton's run gives the Emerald Knights a 5-5-1 record against Poland dating back to 2005. The teams were CSC league rivals until this year when realignment moved Hamilton to Division II.

Poland, which won three-consecutive Class D titles from 2005-2007, defeated Hamilton in the 2006 final and the Tornadoes also beat Hamilton in a sectional semifinal match a year later.

In the Oct. 24 New York State Sportswriters poll, Poland is tied for No. 20 and Hamilton is not ranked.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Delaney: Sauquoit girls can go "all the way."

Earlier this fall Sauquoit Valley girls soccer coach Tim Clive told me to make my reservations for the state tournament. Cllive expected his Indians to be there. At least one area girls coach agrees.

Through two Section III matches, undefeated Sauquoit is in good shape. The Indians advanced to the Class C-1 final after a 3-1 victory over league rival Waterville Saturday. Top-seeded Sauquoit (18-0) plays No. 2 Tully at Chittenango Wednesday (Nov. 4).

If Sauquoit defeats Tully, they'll go to Cortland State for the overall Class C championship. And then for the state-ranked No. 2 Indians?

"All the way," said Westmoreland coach Rick Trinco after Sauquoit defeated the Bulldogs 7-0 in a quarterfinal match. "I say that because this group, they came up together. All year long this has been a dream team. They know where they're going to be on the field."