High stakes soccer games normally come down to the ability to convert when a spontaneous offensive opportunity presents itself.
And the ability of the winning team to create more scoring opportunities.
Such was the case, on Tuesday, as OFA claimed a 2-0 Senior Day victory over Canton and the NAC Central Division Boys Soccer title.
A Senior Day win where senior Conor Hannan scored the first goal and set up classmate Rudy Binion for the second.
Also honored with their parents in a Senior Day ceremony were: Martin Arquitt, Pat LaComb, Mike Mallott, Jed McRoberts, Matt Piercey, Aaron Peo and Andrew Roddy.
I thought we played better today than the first time we played (1-1 tie) them, said OFA Coach Matt Morley after the 11-1-2 Devils lifted their division record to 9-0-2 (20 points) and opened a three-point lead over 8-2-1 (17 points) Canton heading into their regular season finale at Potsdam on Friday.
We won more balls in the midfield, created more scoring opportunities and our defense was excellent. Tristan Moore, DaKota Brady and Seth Pinkerton are all starting on defense for the first time this season and they just keep getting better.
Coach Morley felt that the advantage originated from a series of intense practices last week after he challenged his team to get better in the stretch run of the season.
The guys are really pushing each other in practice and that has definitely made us better, said Morley after his team gained an 11-6 shots-on-goal advantage and a 10-3 edge in corner kicks with nine in the first half playing with a stiff wind.
The eventual winning goal came with 14 minutes remaining in the first half and started with a corner kick by Peyton Lalone which created a scramble in front of Canton goalie Scott Wight. The scramble climaxed with Conor Hannan controlling a blocked clearing attempt, drilling a hard shot which Wight blocked and then one-timing the rebound over the prone keeper.
The ball just came to me from 18 and I shot for the far post. He made the save, the ball came back to me and I put it in, said Hannan who set up Rudy Binion for the second goal with 14 minutes left in the game.
The insurance tally also came off a set piece when defender Seth Pinkerton unfurled a long throw-in from the right sideline. Hannan controlled the ball, again shot for the far post and Binion slammed home a point blank drive after the shot deflected off a defender.
The ball hit a defender right in front of the net and went right to me, said Binion.
We played very well today and I definitely think the intense practices had a lot to do with it. We really got after it in practice and I loved it.
Jake Sias stopped six shots in posting his eight shutout of the season and Wight finished with nine stops for Canton.
Sias preserved the shutout with a pivotal save shortly before the first goal when he blocked a short range shot by Jacob Oatman set up by a Jake Facey corner kick.
Oatman returned the favor with a nice cross with one minute remaining in the half which Facey just missed with an attempt to steer it into an open corner of the net.
THROW-INS: OFAs defensive depth has been bolstered by the return of senior Aaron Peo who missed most of the season because of illness...Canton sweeper Evan Lapoint kept his team from going down 3-0 by heading the ball away the net after a shot was chipped over the goalie...OFA, which is ranked 20th in this weeks NYS Class B Poll, has clinched the number one seed for the Section 10 playoffs, OFA sophomore Peyton Lalone was involved in a series of first half threats.
Canton JVs 2 - OFA 0: The JV game was a reversal of the varsity contest the Bears scored a goal in each half.
We pressured them but we just didnt score. But it was a very good game, said OFA Coach Jim Howard.
Justin McCormick stopped 10 shots in the OFA goal supported by excellent defensive play by Will Kroeger, Dylan Jock and Matt Ramm according to Coach Howard who cited Ben Hammond, Max Ahrens, Matt Sholette and Connor Ward for midfield leadership. James Wing and Noah Moore were cited for play in the front line.
AROUND NAC CENTRAL
Potsdam 5, Salmon River 1: The Sandstoners (10-5, 7-4) received three goals from Ebuka Ononye. Ashler Herrick made three saves in the winning effort while Austin Leroux posted 16 stops for the Shamrocks (5-10, 3-8).
Massena 4, Malone 1: Jason Hammill scored one goal with one assist and Ryan Moffit scored twice as Massena won a preview of the Section 10 Class A Championship Game.Isai Paradones scored the for the Huskies.