Monday November 19, 2012

ADAM SAMROV

Sports Editor

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- During their entire playoff run, the Hoosick Falls Central School boys soccer team has lived on the edge, winning all of their games by a single goal.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, in the Class C state semifinal at Middletown High School on Saturday, Lansing got the goal they needed first and the Panthers couldn't equalize in a 1-0 defeat.

"Getting to this point validates all the work we've put in since August," said Hoosick Falls coach Mike Young. "We're very humbled and fortunate to be one of the final four standing. We just came up a little bit short against a good team."

Lansing (21-0), in the semifinal for the second straight season, scored the only goal of the contest with 10:43 remaining in the first half. Off a corner kick, there was a scramble in front of the Hoosick Falls (17-6) net. Goalie Noah Chani made the first stop, but the rebound came out to junior defender Andy Parkes, who put a toe on it and slid it past Chani.

"They had some good shots but our defense held up well," Chani said. "There was just that one scramble in the box. They surrounded me, it was just chaos. I just saw the ball and tried to get with my foot."

Other than that, Chani was a rock for the Panthers the entire game. With Lansing, the Section IV champion, peppering the goal, the sophomore made saves of all kinds - diving to both his left and right and jumping up to tip balls away from the crossbar.

In the middle of the first half, Chani made a diving save to his right to keep out a rocketed shot. Later, on a free kick, Chani was on his toes, saving a surprisingly accurate shot from near midfield.

"[Noah] surprised me this year, we knew he had some experience coming in and he proved all year that he was one of the best goalies," said senior forward Chris LaCroix. "He was a wall in there today."

Chani, in his first full varsity season, finished with 16 saves.

"Noah has great hands, and being able to put him in goal helps us to do other things on the field," Young said. "He'll have this experience as a sophomore, and build on it next year and afterward. He definitely kept us in the game at a few points."

In the first half, the Bobcats outshot Hoosick Falls 10-1 but only led by a single tally.

"We came out and had lots of chances early; if we had poked one of those in early in the game, it might have opened them up a little more," said Lansing coach Adam Heck. "[Hoosick Falls] was great at getting guys under the ball and making things happen outside the box. Our defense has been the backbone all year; they didn't allow [too many] good chances."

The second half started similar to the first, with Chani making a couple of diving saves to keep it 1-0.

With 15 minutes remaining and searching desperately for the equalizer, Hoosick Falls moved the back line up and added a third forward. It paid dividends soon after as the Panthers got a couple of chances at goal. But their best chance came with eight minutes left.

Hoosick Falls forced a corner kick, their only one of the contest.

LaCroix put it to the near post, where Tyler Carr got a head on it, but the Lansing defense, which has only allowed one goal this season, was just strong enough to keep the ball out of the net.

"We were unfortunate to not get our toe to it, it was similar to their goal," Young said.

In the final five minutes, Lansing played more of a keep-away style and the Panthers were unable to get another shot.

"We had a great season, I wish it could keep going, but we did all we could," Chani said.

There were tears at the end, but Young had a simple message for his team.

"I told them they were the best boys soccer team in the history of Hoosick Falls," Young said. "The kids did everything I asked and gave everything they had and came up short. It's nothing to hang their heads about."

"It's a great honor to be a part of this program," added senior Taylor Baker. "Hopefully the younger guys see what we did and do the same."