CRARYVILLE — The Patroon Conference recently decided to add a few games to their shortened schedule for soccer this fall, and the first day of tournament play began on Tuesday.
The top four teams in the conference were matched up in semifinal games at a neutral site, in Craryville at Taconic Hills High School, where Maple Hill played Chatham and Greenville faced off with Cairo-Durham.
The Maple Hill Wildcats battled the Chatham Panthers in the first semifinal match in girls soccer Tuesday afternoon in the Patroon Championship Tournament. The Wildcats won an overtime thriller 2-1 over the Panthers, thanks to a late goal by Alayna Fletcher, early in the overtime period.
Both teams pressed early as the match started, and looked for opportunities on offense often.
The Wildcats got out to an early 1-0 lead, when the Panthers knocked it into their own goal and cost themselves the first goal on a mental error. As much as the Panthers were able to keep pace with the Wildcats, their chances were few and far between.
Chatham failed to score on an early corner kick that took place shortly after the own goal, but they struggled again and again to keep possessions alive. Meanwhile, the Wildcats would not let up on the attack and overwhelmed Chatham with their passing ability.
Isabella Thomas narrowly missed a header for Maple Hill with the ball looped to her beautifully, but the deflection went just past the goal on the right and out of bounds for a goal kick.
Moments later, Abby Taylor scored the equalizer with 23:34 on the clock before the half, thanks to an assist from her sister Hannah Taylor.
Maple Hill came within inches of taking the lead before halftime, as a shot rang off the goal post, but the score remained tied at one from the half through the end of regulation while each team played tight on one another.
Six minutes of play into the overtime period, Alayna Fletcher found the back of the net and gave Maple Hill the lead once again, with not much time remaining for Chatham to mount any offense.
The Panthers were visibly struggling at this point in the contest and the Wildcats just rode out the clock the way they knew how, and claimed a spot in the Patroon Conference Tournament Finals on Thursday.
Greenville 3, Cairo-Durham 1
The second semifinal on the night was a rematch from a very good game earlier this season, as Greenville took on Cairo-Durham. The Mustangs were unsuccessful for the second time against the Spartans, as Greenville muscled their way to a 3-1 victory thanks to tough play, and knowing when to take advantage and score.
Ella Grupe led the way for Greenville with two goals, as the Spartans dictated the pace throughout the game.
The Spartans got off to a hot start as Grupe scored inside the first four minutes of the game, and Greenville led 1-0.
The teams traded close calls shortly thereafter, with shots going wide of the net at each end of the field. Cairo-Durham’s Xxaria Makely directed a shot on goal a few minutes later, but the ball was punched out by Spartan keeper Josephine O’Hare, glancing off of the crossbar.
Greenville maintained control and poise as the game neared halftime, and they extended their lead to 2-0 thanks to a header from Emma Haller.
Less than ten minutes into the second half, Grupe scored her second goal of the night, and Greenville looked to pull away from Cairo-Durham and now led 3-0.
The Mustangs continued to force opportunities for offense, but could not get close enough to get adequate shots at the net. Cairo-Durham managed to avoid a shutout when Aurora Gomez scored with just over 20 minutes left in regulation.
The increase in possession time for the Mustangs was too little, and too late, as the Spartans played well enough to get the ball back whenever they wanted, and ran down the clock.
Greenville held on to their lead and coasted to a 3-1 win in the semifinals, and will play Maple Hill Thursday at 5 p.m. at Taconic Hills High School in the Patroon Championship Finals.