Schenevus holds off Morris/Edmeston to repeat as Class D champions

Oct. 29—It ended up being a more difficult journey than the one they made last year, but the Schenevus girls soccer team found themselves at a familiar destination on Saturday: sectional champions.

The Lady Dragons held on to defeat top-seeded Morris/Edmeston 3-2 at the Wright National Soccer Complex to win the Section IV Class D title for the second year in a row. While this year's Schenevus squad wasn't as dominant as last year's, coach Steve Hornung said the ups and downs were worth it.

"It feels great, especially the way we got to this point," he said. "We didn't have the same type of season that we had last year. We had a few bumps along the way. But in the end I think the bumps helped us get ready for a game like this."

Saturday's win was made even sweeter by the fact that Schenevus had been defeated by Morris/Edmeston twice this year already, including a humbling 4-1 loss in the Tri-Valley League Championship.

"The first game that we played was a pretty even game that went into overtime," Hornung said. "The second game, they dominated us and deserved to beat us, and we knew it. But coming back and fixing the things that we needed to fix, that's what we worked on so that was important for us."

It didn't take long for Schenevus to take a lead, as Lily Competiello scored on a beautifully-placed high shot just under two minutes into play.

The two sides traded possessions for several minutes until M/E tied things up when Molly Rifanburg scored on a low, hard shot to make it 1-1 with 25:44 left in the half.

Each team had quality chances during the remainder of the half but neither could find the back of the net again before the halftime whistle sounded.

It was more of the same for the first portion of the second half until Schenevus retook the lead at the 20:57 mark when Sam Osborne poked in a rebound off a corner kick to make the score 2-1.

The Dragons doubled their lead just over a minute later when Autumn Burton collected a deflected pass from Lily Competiello and rifled it past the M/E keeper.

Morris/Edmeston wouldn't go away quietly, however. Rifanburg scored her second goal of the game at the 14:35 mark on a high, arcing shot that snuck in under the crossbar to cut the deficit to 3-2.

"When they scored the second goal, give her credit," Hornung said. "That high ball that was floating like that up under the crossbar is a killer for a goalie. And once it went up, Tim (co-coach Tim Smith) and I knew we were in trouble because no goalie's going to get that. We looked at the clock and there were 14 minutes left and we had some good leadership out on the field and they stayed composed and we were able to pull ourselves back together."

Schenevus was able to do just that, holding off some late pressure by Morris/Edmeston with several strong clearances in the defensive zone. M/E was unable to break through, and the celebration was on for Schenevus.

Hornung said his team was much better at challenging the opponent with consistent defensive pressure.

"We closed down space better before their players received the ball on throw-ins," he explained. "We closed down space better defensively on corner kicks. Those were the two main things defensively that we did. Offensively, we moved the ball better and we won more of the 50-50 balls."

Most of Schenevus' victories both this season and last year have come by large margins, so Hornung was pleased with how his team was able to hold up under the pressure of a one-score game — in the sectional finals of all places.

"Morris/Edmeston and us, we're in the same position. We don't have a lot of close games," he said. "We had a couple close games in sectionals, but we really haven't had a chance to practice the protocols that we use in the last 20 minutes of the game. We can talk about them but if you don't practice them, it's a different story. We handled that the way we wanted to handle it."

Schenevus 3, Morris/Edmeston 2

S ... 1-2-3

M/E ... 1-1-2

S: Lily Competiello 1-0, Sam Osborne 1-0, Autumn Burton 1-0

M/E: Molly Rifanburg 2-0