Monday November 19, 2012

ADAM SAMROV

Sports Editor

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- This year, there were tears of joy.

After last year's Class C girls soccer final against Friends Academy, Hoosick Falls players cried after it ended in a draw and both teams were considered co-champions.

This time around, they proved without a shadow of a doubt who was better -- and they don't have to share the title this time.

Jordan Haynes scored her 33rd goal of the season midway through the second half and the Hoosick Falls defense made it hold up in a 1-0 victory over Keshequa at SUNY Cortland on Sunday to win their second straight title.

"It's so amazing, I just started crying and the emotions [were] rushing in, it was just amazing," said senior Grace Delurey. "We cried last year, because we didn't know how to feel. This time, it's incredible, it's our title. I feel amazing, I'm so proud of my team. I don't know how we'd do it without each other."

The winning goal came in the 54th minute. The Indians attempted to clear the ball in their defensive end but failed, turning it over to the Panthers (21-2). Allie Martin got a foot to the ball and passed it to Haynes, who turned and got off a left-footed shot, her weak side, and snuck it into the far right corner past Keshequa goalie Katie Forrester.

"We talked about it at halftime," said Hoosick Falls coach Tom Husser, who won his third state championship in 12 seasons leading the Panthers. "They were overplaying her right side, so I told her if she got a chance to turn and crack and hit the ball left-footed."

Delurey said the goal calmed down the Panthers.

"The first five minutes it's going back and forth and that's good for us," said the senior, who ended the season with 29 goals and the school record for career goals. "I knew we had to get one in because the game would be low scoring. When it went in, everything just broke loose. We needed to have pure defense and hold the lead."

As the time ticked away, goalie Hannah Fricke, who allowed only one goal during the playoffs, made some terrific saves to hold onto the advantage.

About halfway through the second half, Fricke made a diving save and nearly collided head-on with a rushing Keshequa player.

Then with seven minutes left, the Indians had another golden opporunity to equalize, but Fricke was able to get in the way and force the shot over the crossbar.

"Hannah kept us in this game last year and did the same thing this year. She was brilliant, even having the sun in her face in the second half," Husser said.

Fricke ended up with 10 saves in the championship game and pitched shutouts in both the semifinal and final.

"She had an amazing year," Delurey said. "She seems like she can be anywhere at any time, she's like a spider monkey. I'm so proud of her and lucky to have her on my team."

In the final minutes, Keshequa pushed everyone up, looking to tie, but Hoosick Falls managed to control and keep the ball away from their net.

"It was the slowest five minutes of my life," Delurey said. "Once it hits two minutes, you cant see the time anymore, so I was asking the ref how much [time] was left. Once he said 10 seconds, I just started sprinting for my team."

Keshequa, coming out of Section V (Rochester area), finished the season 20-1.

"The girls played well, and it was two even teams," said Keshequa coach Pete Goho. "I figured it'd come down to one goal and that's the way soccer goes. Unfortunately we came out on the short end. I couldn't ask for a better group. They have a lot to be proud of ... it's the first time in the state semifinal or final for the school, they've made a lot of history."

Hoosick Falls and Husser have made some history of their own as well. The Panthers become just the ninth team in the history of the New York state tournament to win back-to-back championships and Husser is only the second Section II coach to win three state titles, adding this year's crown to 2005 and 2011.

"I told them there was a space on the [gymnasium] wall for [another championship] banner and we're putting another one up there," Husser said. "It's pretty humbling to come from a small town in upstate New York and come back here."

Delurey and the seven other seniors -- Emily Everard, Alice Hayden, Anna Restino, Martin, Liz Babson, Julia Baker and Mary Peters -- end their high school careers at the pinnacle of New York girls soccer.

"It's amazing to end it here," Delurey said. "I'm shocked and speechless that we won back-to-back. "To get one senior year that's our own and the whole town's behind us .... I'm proud to be a Panther, it's awesome."