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Schools of Thought: Class D stealing the show

October 29, 2012
By MIKE ZUMMO ( , The Leader Herald

At first, I didn't know what happened. I saw Kalob Russell's shot arc toward Argyle goalkeeper Del Price, and I saw Price catch the ball and then inexplicably try to throw the ball away back onto the field.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why.

Then came the sudden celebration by the Northville boys soccer team.

Huh? Now, what was going on?

Eventually, we got the official word. Price had stepped over the goal line with the ball in his hand, bringing the ball across the plane and Kalob was awarded with the game-winning goal mere seconds before time was going to expire on overtime.

Talk about sudden victory.

And for Argyle, while that's an awful way to lose, it must be a devastating way to see your season end. Of course at that moment, the Scots may have been a little too angry at the officials for calling a goal on that play Saturday, but devastation has likely set in by now as they look toward their 2013 season.

Price may have been the only person, other than the official that made the call, on the field who knew what was going on at that moment. Of course, after the call was clarified, his actions made sense. Price must have known he was crossing the goal line and was doing everything he could to make sure the ball didn't cross.

What happened Saturday is indicative of what's been going on in Class D since the tournament began last week.

St. Johnsville, the as the eighth seed, won its first round game in overtime. Then Friday, the Saints bounced top-seeded Loudonville Christian from the tournament with a 3-2 victory on a goal by Brandon Campione. That game also went into overtime.

That's a lot of extra soccer and a lot of high drama.

Now, that drama will move to a neutral site as the Falcons and Saints, who both play in the Western Athletic Conference and were in the same division until the WAC went to three divisions this year, will meet in the semis. The Falcons won an Oct. 3 game between the two, 6-0.

Don't expect a result that uneven this time.

The one-and-done format of sectionals changes certain teams and the intensity is increased by the reality that every team is suddenly fighting for its season. Some thrive in this situation; others don't. So far, the Saints have been thriving.

The Falcons caught a break in a game that seemed destined for penalty kicks as neither team had many opportunities to score. I mused at halftime that the game would probably end on a defensive miscue. It turned out I was right about the miscue, but I never would have predicted that.

Other than Class D, most of the sectional tournaments have been status quo as the teams that are expected to win are doing so. The biggest upset, so far, has been in the Class C boys tournament where No. 14 Stillwater has made a run to the semifinals, dispatching the third- and sixth-seeded teams (Berlin and Greenwich).

In the girls' bracket, both Northville and St. Johnsville have advanced to the sectional Class D semifinals. The success of both the Class D boys and girls teams highlights one of my favorite things about the state's smallest classification: the teams are more even.

In the larger classifications, the top-seeded schools run over the lower-seeded ones in most cases. Class D has always been the wild card. You never know who's going to come out on top.

Or in what manner.



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