By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com
(See Chris Brooks photo gallery of two games at the end of the roundup)
BELFAST — Garnering a winning edge early can be crucial any way you look at it, especially in the game of soccer where just a single tilt in the balance of power can unequivocally change the complexity of the game.
To help open the 2023-24 High School sports season, two teams had the distinct honor of using the game’s early time window to their utmost advantage in tournament action on Wednesday at the Rich Sullivan Complex in Belfast — Bolivar-Richburg and host Genesee Valley/Belfast, as both squads powered their way through opening round action in shutout style to set up Friday night’s Championship game under the lights.
In game one of the two-game set, it featured a clash of two defending Section V finalists from a season ago, Bolivar-Richburg and Houghton Academy across a midfield battle for much of the time in both halves. But when getting on the board mattered the most, the Wolverines rose to the occasion by scoring in the first 10 minutes of the game to pair it with their final netter in the last 10 minutes of play to wrap up a 2-0 blank of the Panthers.
The ice first cracked for the Wolverines (1-0) off a big block from the body of Aydin Sisson, who then turned right around and helped deliver the first of his two assists with a mad dash down the end line, shifting gears just as quickly to deliver a drop pass to the foot of Landon Barkley to his left, firing home the score with ease to take the lead.
Since the goal, Bolivar-Richburg kept the pressure held steady against Houghton Academy (0-1) garnering numerous opportunities to add onto their lead — a pair of which from Gary McDowell, with the first coming on a-near diving connection on a pass from his right across the front of the Panthers net, nearly getting just enough firepower on his header to knock it away to the near post.
McDowell followed up minutes later with another setup from Sisson, this time off a corner kick, sailing in and squirting free to the other side of the Panthers net, where the senior nearly met the ball once more with his leg next to the near post.
Houghton Academy, despite the offensive opportunities from Bolivar-Richburg, did not falter, as they applied pressure of their own against the Class C2 Finalists, with Josh Davidson garnering the best chance to tie the game late in the second half on a breakaway past the Wolverines defense. He would apply a shot on goal, but it would sail just wide and out of reach.
But the game would ultimately remain in Bolivar-Richburg’s favor for good in the last 10 minutes of play, as Sisson dished off his penultimate assist after shimmying his way past the Panthers defense to deliver a pass to Brayden Zilker, who angled a shot straight at the top left corner of the cage, taking a massive ricochet and beamed towards the netting on the opposite side to finish off the insurance-clinching score with seven minutes to go.
The two goals for the Wolverines were accounted for on 12 total shots against Houghton Academy, as they outshot the Panthers by a 12-4 count, with David Abdo making all four saves to record the shutout. On the opposite end, Marco Zanini made eight saves for the team in blue and white.
With the Wolverines now waiting in the wings, their opponent was to be determined in the nightcap that highlighted Cuba-Rushford and host Genesee Valley/Belfast under the lights. Like the beginning stages of the first battle, the hosts in black composed one of their own at a more rapid pace with the assistance of Ian McKenzie, who scored 35 seconds into the game to provide a tone-striking moment to help deliver a 3-0 shutout of the Rebels to claim the final championship game spot this weekend at the Rich Sullivan Complex.
“I thought scoring 30 seconds into the game set the tone for us to start,” GV/Belfast coach Mark Sullivan said. “I played all the boys tonight, and this is going to be a young team. I was really impressed with Kyle (McCumiskey) in goal. He’s never played there before, and he looked like his older brother (Kevin) at points too. Cuba-Rushford had the ball in our end for most of the time, and that tells us that we have to work more on our conditioning. The boys encouraged each other from start to finish, and that’s a big key to everything.”
Early gold came striking early for Genesee Valley/Belfast (1-0) with McKenzie’s icebreaker within the first minute of play, collecting the clinching pass from center while making a move on the right side of the Cuba-Rushford cage to send the ball in toward the far post to garner the advantage.
The goal would give the hosts a big burst of momentum to control the game from midfield play, to the possession and some stellar defense captained by Kyle McCumiskey in between the pipes, who made all four stops against the Rebels (0-1) — two off back-to-back rushes into the defensive zone.
The Genesee Valley/Belfast offense would feed off the momentum a short time later, as they cracked through with a lead extension right before the first half’s conclusion. Immediately following a throw-in deep in Cuba-Rushford territory, an initial shot from Evan Turybury was fired against the goal, being blocked on the way in. But it would create enough of a rebound to discharge another ball that deflected off the Rebels defense in front and into the net behind Alex Baron for a 2-0 halftime lead.
The victory was finished off later in the second half with Owen Heaney scoring a goal of his own to create a three-goal advantage they never looked back on, as they floored it towards victory and towards a meeting with Bolivar-Richburg for the tournament championship this weekend. The three goals by Genesee Valley/Belfast were part of a 12-shot offensive effort, as they narrowly outshot Cuba-Rushford by a 12-10 count with McCumiskey making all 10 saves.
Baron would make nine saves on the other end for the Rebels.
All four teams will return to the field at the Rich Sullivan Complex on Friday, with Cuba-Rushford and Houghton Academy partaking in the Consolation game beginning in a 5 p.m. first kick, while Bolivar-Richburg and Genesee Valley/Belfast close up shop at 7 p.m.
Addison Tourney: Bailey nets 1st Lions goal, but Wellsville falls to host Knights
ADDISON — Although Ethan Bailey was able to find the back of the net for Wellsville’s first goal of the new campaign on the soccer field Wednesday night, it was a battle that ultimately belonged to host Addison in opening round action of their home tournament, as the Knights galloped their way towards triumph with a 6-1 victory over the Lions to claim a spot in Friday night’s Championship game against Campbell-Savona.
Right before the opening half reached its conclusion, Wellsville (0-1) was able to cut away at their early deficit to Addison with Bailey’s first goal of the season, garnering a feed across from Aiden Cowburn with nearly five minutes left to play to eliminate the shutout.
But what momentum was built by the Lions going into the break, was eliminated by the Knights upon their return for the second half, as they went on to cushion their lead even further with three more tallies finding the back of the net to pull away permanently.
Addison’s six goals came on 26 total shots, with Nick Germain-Tardieu making 20 stops in between the pipes for Wellsville.
The Lions are back on the field in Addison for Consolation round action on Friday, as they face the Alfred-Almond Eagles.
Arkport/Canaseraga 6, AW/J-T 2
ARKPORT — Three different scorers had a hand in chipping in a fast and furious start for the Arkport/Canaseraga Wolves on Wednesday, as they posted a first half against Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg that saw them remain in the driver’s seat from start to finish to claim a 6-2 season-opening victory.
Jacob Bacon, John Marcus and Eli Merry all tallied scores across the first portion of time to begin the night, with Marcus scoring back-to-back goals in a span of just two minutes at the 31 minute mark to give Arkport/Canaseraga an early command of a 3-0 lead against Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg (0-1).
The visitors would cut the deficit down to 4-1 at the break with the first of two Robert Bradley goals coming just past the midway mark of the opening half. But the momentum would pick right back up for the hosts with two more goals from Zach Smith and Koehler Preston to help finish off the victory before Bradley tallied his final goal at the 17:52 mark.
Arkport/Canaseraga outshot Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg by a 24-9 count, with Taylor Pragle recording seven stops for the win in goal. On the other end, Derek Perkins made 18 saves for the visitors.
Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg is back in action next Thursday night at the Brock Young Tournament in Scio, where they face host Friendship/Scio in a 7 p.m. first kick.
Canisteo-Greenwood 3, Fillmore 2
HOUGHTON — It came down to the wire between Canisteo-Greenwood and Fillmore to open up the new tennis season on the court, but a pair of strong victories in the doubles department for the Lady Chargers helped pave the way towards their first victory of the season on Wednesday at Houghton College by a 3-2 count.
“I’m really happy with how we played, considering it was our first match,” said Lady Eagles coach Randy Crouch. “We still have a lot to learn, but it was great to see the team implement so much of what we have worked on. Most importantly, they were excited and enthusiastic to play.”
Fillmore (0-1) garnered their two lone victories from within singles action, with their first coming from Claire Schilke at first singles, as she provided a dominant display over Canisteo-Greenwood’s Aaliyah Tigner with a 10-2 win in pro-set play. Spencer Hopkins would follow with a third singles win for the hosts by forfeit.
The Lady Chargers were propelled by a sweep of the doubles matches, with the first doubles team of McKenzie Clark and Serenity Sanford taking control with a 10-2 win over Kira Morley and Indigo Knapp, while the second doubles team of Amelia Stewart and Alli Jackson helped finish off the sweep with a 10-3 win against Fillmore’s Kirra Bentley and Lena Tucker.
At second singles, Canisteo-Greenwood collected one final victory from Bailey Gliesel, who scored a 10-4 win over Molly Mahoney to help finish off win number one for the Lady Chargers.
Fillmore will return to the court over the road next Wednesday night with a 5 p.m. visit to Avoca/Prattsburgh.
1. Claire Schilke (FIL) def. Aaliyah Tigner (C-G), 10-2.
2. Bailey Gliesel (C-G) def. Molly Mahoney (FIL), 10-4.
3. Spencer Hopkins (FIL) by for.
1. McKenzie Clark/Serenity Sanford (C-G) def. Kira Morley/Indigo Knapp (FIL), 10-2.
2. Amelia Stewart/Alli Jackson (C-G) def. Kirra Bentley/Lena Tucker (FIL), 10-3.
Wellsville at Alfred-Almond
Wellsville swept A-A, 5-0 in a rematch of the Section V championship from last season. No other information was available.