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High school soccer: Beaver River clinches first Section 3 title

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CORTLAND — Embracing the role of the underdog, the Beaver River girls soccer team elevated their postseason run even further with a historic day.

Freshman Kaylee Olmstead scored an unassisted goal in the second half and junior goalkeeper Mariah Abel made five saves to record the shutout as the Beavers continued their storybook playoff push by edging Little Falls 1-0 on Saturday to claim Section 3’s overall Class C championship at SUNY Cortland.

Beaver River (10-6-3), which won its fourth consecutive playoff game, claimed the school’s first overall sectional title in girls soccer.

“It’s awesome,” Abel said. “Because girls varsity soccer has never been to states before and we’re going there.”

“We’ve tied as (Class) C-2 champs before but have never gone on to states,” Beaver River co-coach Tracy Adams said. “This is really big for our school.”

The Beavers won Section 3’s Class C-2 bracket with a 2-0 victory over second-seeded Fabius-Pompey on Wednesday.

“We worked really hard for this all season,” Olmstead said. “And to have it pay off like this is the best feeling ever.”

In its recent run and backed by Abel, Beaver River hasn’t allowed a goal in the postseason, with Abel recording a shutout in each game.

“I give a lot of credit to my defense,” Abel said. “They’ve been strong the whole season and in the postseason we’ve been pushing even harder to get to this point.”

Beaver River advances to play in a state regional game against Section 4 champion Lansing next Saturday in the Binghamton area at a site and time to be announced.

Later in the day, second-seeded Poland ousted top-seeded Copenhagen, 4-2 to secure its second consecutive Class D sectional title.

With the game scoreless for most of regulation, the Beavers finally broke through in the 64th minute. Olmstead used her left foot to send the ball toward the Little Falls goal area in what she intended to be a crossing pass.

But in a fortuitous break, the ball carried into the far left corner of the net for the deciding goal with 16:54 remaining in regulation.

“I normally kick with my right foot and my left isn’t quite as strong as my right,” Olmstead said. “But I just put everything into it and tried to kick it as hard as I could. And seeing it go in, I just thought I was going to cry.”

Abel was sharp throughout the game as she came well out of her goal to take the ball away from Genevieve Schoff on two different occasions, including with 4:30 left.

Little Falls (18-2) had a prime opportunity to draw even in the game’s final minute after Abel was assessed a yellow card with 27 seconds left. But a direct kick by Maria Morotti was blocked by a wall of Beaver River defenders.

“Our defense played awesome,” Adams said. “And that’s because of the consistency we’ve had throughout each game.”

POLAND 4, COPENHAGEN 2

Sophomore Mikayla Blumenstock scored a pair of goals within the span of a minute to spark the reigning state champion Tornadoes, who once again found a way to break the Golden Knights’ hearts in sectional play to win their second consecutive Section 3 title in Class D.

Sophomore Claire Stackel scored two goals to lead Copenhagen (18-1), which was ousted from the playoffs for the second straight year by Poland (17-2).

With the game tied at 2-2 at halftime, Kara Morrison and Paige Sullivan each scored in the second half to put the game away for Poland, which defeated Copenhagen 1-0 in a Class D semifinal last year.

“It’s tough, we dug ourselves a hole and got down 2-0,” Copenhagen coach Katherine Stackel said. “And then we responded and tied it up. But if you give them an inch, they’re going to make you pay.”

After scoring twice in the first 40 minutes, Claire Stackel was denied in the first minute of the second half as goalie Courtney Green (three saves) stopped her low drive.

Morrison followed with the pivotal go-ahead goal as she scored into the far right side of the goal in the 54th minute.

Poland put the game away as Sullivan, who had missed on her penalty kick attempt in the first half, took a low corner kick and tucked the ball past goalie Mackenzie Wheeler (nine saves) and into the net with 10:31 remaining.

“When they scored their third goal, I don’t think we recovered from that,” Katherine Stackel said. “We came out with some good pressure in the second half, but we couldn’t sneak one in.”

Despite missing on a penalty kick only 7 1/2 minutes into the game, Poland seized the early initiative as Blumenstock scored on a long-range shot in the 15th minute. and scored again only 39 seconds later.

Copenhagen responded with a goal in the 24th minute as Claire Stackel lifted a free kick over goalie Courtney Greene.

Stackel struck again as she scored on a long-range header, with Emma Roberts assisting, to draw the Golden Knights even at 2-2.

“It was our goal from day one to get to this point,” Katherine Stackel said. “But obviously we’re not satisfied with just getting this far. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get to that next level and I think this group of girls can do it.”

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