CORTLAND — It certainly lived up to the billing that everyone in attendance had expected from the two top ranked girls soccer teams in the state for Class D schools.
Undefeated Remsen squaring off against once beaten and defending state champion Chazy of Section VII in the state semifinal contest at Cortland High School on Saturday was one for the ages.
But no one could have predicted how this wild one would end.
After Chazy sophomore Amber Polomsky scored the game-tying goal with 50-seconds left in regulation for a 3-3 tie that pushed overtime, the two schools played to a stalemate for the next 30 minutes, including two 5-minute sudden victory overtimes that eventually led to a five-on-five penalty kicks shootout.
Remsen then fell in penalty kicks, 3-1, to lose the state semifinal game and saw the Lady Eagles advance to take on Northville from Section II in the championship game on Sunday. Northville advanced with a 2-1 sudden victory win over Section VI’s Ellicottville also on Saturday.
Chazy would go on to raise their second consecutive state title following a 1-0 victory Sunday.
The Lady Rams had never trailed on Saturday against Chazy, and had two separate leads in the game, including a 3-1 advantage with 24:28 remaining, but couldn’t close out the Lady Eagles, forcing overtimes and eventually into penalty kicks.
"Its a terrible way to end the season on penalty kicks, but that’s the way it goes," said Remsen head coach Jim Wilder, whose team ended its season at 18-0-1 overall.
"There’s tears, and their heads are down right now, but if we can be here every year until I retire, I’ll take it, you can’t get any better than this. We were seconds away from going to the state championship game," he added.
Wilder is 235-122-5 in 20 years as Remsen’s head coach.
Remsen lost in the state semifinals last year after claiming the school’s first Section III title, and appeared to have the upper hand in this one with a two-goal advantage.
Remsen junior Erin O’Connor scored her three goal hat-trick off a pass from teammate Emily Runninger and beat Chazy goalie Katharine Tooke in the top corner of the net, bringing the score to 3-1 Remsen with 24:48 remaining.
The Lady Rams then played flawless defense until Chazy’s Christina Emery scored her second goal of the game with 10:03 remaining, and then Polomsky got the game-tying goal in the final seconds of the second half.
Two 10-minute overtimes, and two 5-minute sudden victory overtimes later, the Lady Rams found themselves going to penalty kicks with Chazy.
In penalty kicks, Chazy scored their first two goals by senior tri-captains Kirsten Doran and Caitlyn LaPier, before Remsen’s sophomore Brittany Waterbury scored in the bottom left side of the net and Melanie Carlson was stuffed by Tooke.
Remsen keeper Megan Will then stopped a shot by Kinnan Latremore before she got a hand on Megan Reynolds’ shot, but it rolled into the back of the net for a 3-1 shot advantage.
Remsen’s Erin O’Connor misfired high over the net, and Cortney Taylor’s shot went high to hit the top crossbar, but the ball landed in front of the net and was waved off as no goal by the officials, handing Chazy the victory.
"We always focused on if we do get down we’re never going to give up, and we didn’t. The last 50 seconds we knew we weren’t going to give in, and thought we were going to win the game," said Chazy head coach Karin Sherman-Trombley, whose Eagles would later go on to win the state championship and finish their year 20-1-1 overall.
"Penalty kicks are a mental thing, and we have been doing those since preseason. We were ready for them," she added. "This was the toughest team we played. They were aggressive, and bumped us off the ball, but we talked about if we got down we were going to keep fighting and to never give up. We kept on coming and fighting."
Erin O’Connor finished with three goals to boast her total to 43 goals on the season and 122 goals overall in her career, while her twin sister, Ashley, gave her an assist, and Joleen Marfone and Emily Runninger also had assists.
Will finished with 21 saves, including several jaw-dropping stops.
For Chazy, Emery had two scores, while Polomsky had a goal and Caitlyn Lapier added two assists. Goalie Tooke ended with 19 saves.
"This game to us was the state championship because we were both state ranked No. 1," said Erin O’Connor. "This year we thought it was our year to go all the way. This group of girls is a great group, and we gave it our all. We have a lot of people coming back here next year, so we’ll come back and give it our all," she added.
Remsen opened up the scoring in the first half with a goal off the foot of Erin O’Connor less than four minutes into the game at the 36:53 mark. Her twin sister, Ashley, took the ball in front of the net drawing in three defenders and then found Erin streaking down the left side of the field for the rocket shot on net for a goal on the Lady Rams’ first shot on net.
Emery then tied the score at 1-1 nine minutes later with an unassisted goal.
It was Erin O’Connor’s second goal, coming in the second half that handed the Rams a 2-1 lead, that she considered to be her favorite of the three on the afternoon.
O’Connor took a long pass down the field from freshmen teammate Joleen Marfone and went down on a breakaway down the field and booted it in top shelf from 10 yards out and past Tooke in the first minute of play in the second half.
Wilder gave credit to his defense, Will, and especially Erin O’Connor for their performances against Chazy.
"Three goals in a semifinal game is incredible, she’s (O’Connor) a great athlete. She’s one of the most upset girls, because this is her life. All of her goals were impressive, and when she gets a foot on the ball its normally going in," he said.
"Our defense really grinded this one out, and it was a great game between two great teams, but we know that a game like this is never over, and we got on our heels alittle bit and they found a way to get a goal late. I think we lost some confidence in our morale when they tied it up and it went into penalty kicks," Wilder added. "We are very young and we could very well be here next year," he said. Wilder, who moved to 235-122-5 in 20 years as Remsen’s head coach.
Remsen will lose six seniors to graduation on their 22-person roster including, Colleen Corrigan, Maria Roberts, Shelli Romanowski, Jessica Taylor, Emily Runninger, and Alexis Rieben.