Northville edged by Eldred in OT
MIDDLETOWN — No one had scored for the game’s first 77 minutes.
Then with two minutes to go in regulation, a flurry of offense from both teams sent the game into overtime.
Then four minutes into the first overtime period, Eldred’s Lenae Kelty snuck the ball past Northville goalkeeper Emily Shepard, lifting a Yellow Jackets to a 2-1 win in Friday’s New York State Public Athletic Association Class D regional final at Faller Field.
“It’s disappointing,” senior captain Jill Hadland said. “I’m a senior, but I hope the teams after me get this far, too, and maybe even farther.”
The Yellow Jackets (17-0-0) will face Section V champion Wheatland Chili, which routed Section VI champion North Collins, 8-0 on Friday night, next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Homer High School.
The Falcons (15-5-0) will have to settle for their first Section II Class D championship since 2011.
“We’ve been waiting for years for this,” Hadland said. “With a new coach coming in two years ago, we’ve worked so hard, so it’s nice to get this far.”
After going scoreless for most of regulation, Kelty broke loose of the Northville defense and put her shot past Shepard’s dive, giving Eldred the lead.
However, the Falcons responded immediately as Northville’s Kerrigan Groff chased down a bouncing ball headed toward the Eldred goal. The Yellow Jackets’ goalkeeper, Sami Clemons came out as Groff headed the ball past her. The header had enough on it, but rolled inches wide of the right goal post.
However, a penalty was called on the play and Hannah Coupas drilled a penalty kick past Clemons to tie the game, setting up two intense overtime periods.
“I think [intensity picked up in overtime] because people start getting adrenaline and they want to win,” Hadland said. “It comes down to who wants it more and who’s going to work harder for it.”
Even trailing after the first overtime, the Falcons had the wind at their backs in the second, but only had their best opportunity to tie the game on a corner kick in the 97th minute. However, it was turned away by the Eldred defense.
“It was a valiant effort today,” Northville coach Doug Hammons said. “In soccer it comes down to critical mistakes that can win the whole game for you. I think at this point, we had some defensive errors that led to goals. We didn’t give up and battled back.”
It also came down to a few wide shots that compromised the Falcons’ ability to score in regulation.
In the 44th minute, Northville’s Grace Forsey had an opportunity on an open net when Clemons was drawn out of the net, but the shot went wide left.
“We had some opportunities that kind of went wide for us,” Hammons said.
The Falcons will lose six seniors, but only two — Coupas and Hadland — were starters, but with the rest of the starting line-up made up of underclassmen, Northville has plenty of reason to be optimistic for the years ahead.
“It was an amazing season and it’s just going to get better for us,” Hammons said. “There are things we’re going to capitalize on.”