CANTON - The Canton Central boys soccer team faced a daunting task in Friday nights Class B state regional final.
But in taking on defending co-state champion and unbeaten Ichabod Crane High School, which came into the game with 110 goals scored while allowing just five all season, the Golden Bears kept in the game until the final seconds before dropping a 2-0 decision.
Canton keeper Scott Wight was brilliant all night on the SUNY Canton turf. He allowed just one first-half goal as the senior batted down a long direct kick, but the rebound caromed right to striker Diego Lezema who drove the ball into the back of the cords in the 24th minute.
The game stayed 1-0 until 75 seconds remained in regulation when the Riders were awarded an indirect kick from just eight yards out and Alex Nieman took a quick pass from Seth Scarano and connected for the insurance goal.
Wight finished with 11 saves and at least three of them were diving stops which denied what looked like sure-goals.
This is tough. Its always tough to lose. They kept putting a lot of pressure on us but we kept fighting. said Wight, choking back tears after playing the final game of an outstanding career as the Canton netminder which included 11 shutouts this season. I thought we had a chance in the second half to tie it up, but it didnt go our way. We had a great season and its tough to end it like this. We were unlucky on the first goal. Tonight, we were just trying to defend and then see what we could do.
Ichabod Crane (21-0), the Section 2 (Albany-area) champion, moves on to the state final four next weekend at Middleton High School in Section 9 to seek a repeat state title.
It took a while to score our second goal and you want to get that one, especially playing a team like Canton that counter-attacks as well as those guys do, said Riders coach Mattias Nordgren. We stuck to our game plan of short passing and Diego continued to be been our goal scorer. Hes scored in each of in the last three games.
The Bears (14-4-3) held 31-goal scorer Seth Scarano and 28-goal scorer Herriberto Gomez off the scoreboard.
Pierce Reilly finished with two saves for the Riders.
CLASS C BOYS
Lake George 2, Brushton-Moira 0: In a Class C matchup played earlier in the evening at the SUNY Canton turf, Lake George (20-1-1) struck for a pair of goals less than five minutes apart midway through the first half en route to advancing to the state semi-finals next weekend at Middletown High School.
Kyle Jones netted the only goal the Warriors would need in the 25th minute by finishing off a play set up by Noah Prime and Craig Keenen. John Rubado added the insurance goal in the 30th minute assisted by Brad Schreiber and John Naftaly handled the five shots he faced working the crease for the shutout.
Taylor Tallman made nine saves in the season finale for the Panthers (4-9-4).
Ichabod Crane 2, Canton 0: In the Class B nightcap, the Riders scored midway through the first half then clinched the win with a late goal as the improved to 21-0 on the season.
Lezema broke through for an unassisted goal in the 24th minute and that would hold up as the game-winner. Neiman sealed the victory when he converted off an assist from Scarano with less than two minutes left in regulation while Reilly fielded the two shots he faced in posting the shutout.
Scott Wight turned aside 11 shots for the Bears (13-4-1).