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Allegany-Limestone girls soccer heading to state title game

By Perry L. Novak
Special to The News

HOMER – Allegany-Limestone began the 2017 girls soccer season by winning the New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports State Girls Soccer Hall of Fame Tournament in comeback fashion. Coach Dale MacArthur’s Gators began the state’s final four with a similar rally Saturday night at Homer High School and they are now a win away from the school’s second state crown.

Alyssa Spring scored the tying goal near the end of the first half and added an insurance score in the 70th minute to vault A-L to a 3-1 win against Section XI’s Southold-Greenport in the Class C state semifinals. The win improved the Gators to 21-1, the lone loss coming to Pioneer, a Class A school.

“We thought if we could get that second goal maybe we could get the edge,” Southold-Greenport coach Chris Golden said of a key to the game. “But that team was resilient.”

Indeed. A-L, a big winner in many of its games this year, showed it could come back for a win Saturday in clear but cold weather. The Gators didn’t win by as much as that early game against Morrisville-Eaton – a 6-1 victory – but they showed they could still rally against a tough foe.

“They don’t get rattled,” MacArthur said. “Nothing seems to bother them.”

Grace Syron opened the scoring by taking a pass from Katie Baumann and putting it past A-L goalie Tierney Hemphill in the 18th minute. It was a good header that gave the Settlers (14-5) a lead, but Spring evened things with a nice shot in the 32nd minute. The goal was unassisted as the sophomore took a through ball and made some moves before beating S-G goalie Hayley Brigham.

Jillian Golden pressured A-L in the early stages of the second half and it appeared as if the Section XI champs would be even odds to score the eventual winner. But shortly afterward the Gators regained momentum as Spring and Molly McClelland just missed teaming for a goal in the 56th minute. A-L finally broke through on a direct kick by Kaitlyn Higby. Her long shot in the 59th minute was a floater that Brigham jumped for and got her hands on. The ball had too much speed, though, and it slipped behind the senior goalie and into the net.

Spring just missed a pair of great chances when she worked to get open in the 60th minute.

Erica Volz had a superb chance from in close in the 63rd minute, but the senior fired high and it stayed 2-1. Finally, Spring broke free for the insurance goal in the 70th minute. Hallie Domes set the play up with a great run across the field. She passed to Grace DeCapua, who assisted on Spring’s goal. The cross was perfect and the shot was unstoppable from close range.

Great defense and possession the rest of the way sealed the win for the Gators.

“We’ve just got a lot of confidence,” Spring said of her team’s ability to rally. “We really worked well together, though at the beginning I was really nervous. We got a lot of competition (from S-G).”

The Gators, state co-champions in 2002 with Watertown IHC and a state runner-up another time, will play Section II’s Stillwater at 12:30 p.m. today at Homer High School for the title.

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