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Goalie moves up, but Western falls short McInerney scores in 3-2 defeat

RYE -- Coach Jim Hesch recruited Ireland's Gavin McInerney to play for the Canisius College men's soccer team. Then he asked him to participate with the Western men's open squad. On Saturday, Hesch called upon his goalkeeper one more time.

After holding opponents scoreless through Western's first two matches at the Empire State Games, McInerney was pulled out from his cozy spot between the posts and placed on the pitch, where he contributed a goal and an assist in his team's 3-2 loss to Adirondack.

"He does the best you can ask from a goalkeeper," said Getzville's Lee Catchpole, who netted his fifth goal of the Games on McInerney's pass.

McInerney's teammates would have been happy enough to have him as a body on the field -- the contributions to the scoreboard were merely a bonus. With only two subs on the bench, including McInerney, the injury-plagued Western men's open soccer team wrestled with fatigue and lost, knocking it from gold-medal contention. In today's fight for the bronze, Western will take on New York City, which it beat Thursday, 1-0.

"We lost two guys last week with injuries, and one guy was just a no-show. We don't know where he is," said Dave Hesch, the other Western coach. "Playing in the heat, with low numbers, these guys were just beat. We got beat by ourselves. There were mental mistakes in the back and sloppy play all over the field. We couldn't find the right runs. We were misplaying balls to tired legs. Our technical ability just broke down on us."

"We started off strong and let it slip in the end," Catchpole said.

While neither team came out fluidly, Western caught more breaks to start the game. For the first goal, McInerney scrambled for the ball, passing it off from 20 yards out to a fast-moving Catchpole who slid it into the bottom left corner of the net with 17:06 remaining in the first half.

Adirondack responded with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half. In goal, Tonawanda's Bob Shuttleworth muffed the save, and among bodies in navy blue throwing themselves at the ball, Adirondack's Joshua Gregg squeaked through.

With the score tied at 1, Western's fatigue was clear at halftime as Adirondack trotted up a hill to get some shade while Western slumped on the bench.

"I took these guys because I knew if the chips were down we'd be able to pull through," Jim Hesch said of the men's willingness to push themselves through the latter 45 minutes.

The second half opened just as the first did, with both teams struggling to keep possession. Western slowly found its groove, and the chances started raining in. On a pass from Matt Stuczynski, University at Buffalo assistant men's soccer coach, McInerney broke through a scrum and netted the team's second goal with 27 minutes remaining as he rolled into a defender.

The glory was short-lived, as Gregg tallied his second goal for Adirondack on a free-kick deflection 2 1/2 minutes later, bringing dejection to Western's tired faces.

Western attempted to rally on a series of crisp passes in front of the Adirondack goal, as Catchpole's shot was deflected and an attempted header that followed was caught by the goalie. The men in navy were slow to recover from the disappointment and paid for it at 19:21 when Adirondack's Nick Southwork took a long ball off the chest and volleyed it over Shuttleworth's hands from 25 yards out.

"A couple plays come off the post and some scrambles right in front of the net that we should have put away," Stuczynski said. "Just a couple of defensive breakdowns, and that's the game."

e-mail: jfriedman@buffnews.com

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