CRARYVILLE — Wednesday afternoon featured two outstanding semifinal matchups in the Patroon Conference Championship Tournament for boys’ soccer at Taconic Hills High School.
Maple Hill edged the Coxsackie-Athens Indians, 1-0, and Greenville earned a 2-0 victory over Cairo-Durham. The Wildcats and Mustangs play for the tournament championship on Friday at 5 p.m. at Taconic Hills.
Wednesday’s first contest began with Maple Hill asserting its dominance with their superior ball handling early, and it gave them ample opportunities on offense. Thanks to miscommunication on defense by the Indians, the loose ball rolled directly in front of Wildcat Benjamin Marra, and he tapped it into the open net for the first score of the day.
Maple Hill now had an early lead 1-0, merely four minutes into the game. Play continued to be very physical throughout, though whistles for fouls were few and far between.
Coxsackie-Athens was given a free kick shortly before the half ended, but could not get it close enough for a clear shot, and they still trailed by one at the break.
Both sides played tight and tough the first ten minutes of the second half, and the Indians were finally keeping the ball long enough to be on the attack for a while. However as soon as they would get close, Maple Hill would be right there to disrupt the passing lanes and stifle any hint of momentum.
Moments later, the Indians were fouled so close to the opponent’s net, that many of the players, coaches, and spectators assumed that a penalty kick would be awarded. But, the referee instead called for a free kick, allowing the Wildcats to shield their net and the keeper by a wall of bodies, and the Indians were unsuccessful in their attempt to tie the game.
They tried some misdirection as they took the free kick up close, but the eventual shot by the Indians went wide of the goal to the left, and out of bounds for a goal kick.
Although there was still a good amount of time in regulation, this was the Indians’ last good chance at scoring, and Maple Hill dictated the pace for the rest of the match, and held on to win 1-0.
Greenville 2, Cairo-Durham 0
In the second semifinal Wednesday evening, Greenville and Cairo-Durham came out aggressive on both sides of the ball. They battled hard in the first half, each team stepping up their defense on every change of possession.
The Spartans had a big chance late in the first half on a break away, but Mustang keeper Colin MacGiffert made an unbelievable sliding save in the box. Neither team was willing to give an inch as the game reached halftime, still a scoreless tie.
Minutes into the second half, the Spartans were within inches of taking the lead, but the striker was a second too late and missed a perfect pass across the box. Greenville did not let up on the attack, and MacGiffert was forced to make another incredible save on a kick by the Spartans from point blank range.
The Spartans got yet another chance on offense, managed to head the ball into the net, but it was called back due to the striker being offside. Cairo-Durham was either tired or just getting outplayed down the stretch, but they were not putting defensive pressure on Greenville and the Spartans could run any play they wanted.
Eventually, the Spartans’ attack was so effective, the Mustangs were desperate and had to foul. Unfortunately, this foul was ruled to be inside the box, and Greenville was awarded a penalty kick.
The Spartans took advantage of the Mustangs’ miscue, and James Mitchell scored on the PK, giving Greenville a 1-0 lead with 23:19 to go in regulation.
The Spartans continued a relentless assault on the Mustangs’ goal, and MacGiffert did everything he could to keep Cairo-Durham in the contest as he made save after desperate save.
The offensive onslaught from Greenville was too much for Cairo-Durham as time wore on, and they added to their lead with just over eight minutes left, thanks to a goal from Benjamin Reinhardt. This made the score 2-0 for Greenville and they would ride out the clock the rest of the way to advance to the finals against Maple Hill.