CORTLAND, N.Y. — A memorable run by the Little Falls Mounties reached its conclusion Saturday with a 1-0 loss in Section III’s Class C unification match at SUNY-Cortland.
The Mounties, champions of Class C-1, were beaten on a goal scored in the second half by surprising Beaver River. The Beavers entered the playoffs with a losing record and the No. 4 seed in Class C-2 but have put together a streak that has them heading to Section IV for regional play next weekend.
The lone goal Saturday came on a tough shot from Beaver River freshman Kaylee Olmstead. Working the left sideline above the top of the box, Olmstead sent an aerial to the far corner and broke the scoreless tie in the 64th minute of play.
In an evenly-played match that saw Beaver River outshoot Little Falls 8-7 and earn four corners to the Mounties’ three, victory was far from certain with a single goal on the scoreboard. The Beavers withstood all the pressure the Mounties would apply in the final 16 1/2 minutes.
Beaver River goalie Mariah Abel reached above the charging Nicole Foti who attempted a header off the bounce on Kelli Shepardson’s chip with five minutes left to play. A short time before that, Foti had knocked a ball loose from Abel’s grasp with no teammate in position to play it from there.
Mountie Maria Morotti sent a free kick wide of the right post along the ground in the 77th minute.
With 27 seconds left on the clock, the Mounties caught a break that could have changed the game. Abel went beyond the boundaries of the penalty area to pick up a Little Falls lead pass rolling toward her end. She was assessed a yellow card for the infraction and the Mounties received an indirect kick from 26 yards out.
Shepardson tapped the ball and and Morotti blasted a shot into a crowd in front of the net. The shot hit the legs of several players and Beaver River was eventually able to send the ball down the field with the final seconds ticking away.
Little Falls was left to lament a loss in which its best scoring chances had come in the opening minutes, including a breakaway shortly after the start of the contest.
“We had two breakaways,” coach Sal Marchese said, “and when you don’t capitalize on breakaways it will come back to haunt you.”
Abel was credited with three saves in the shutout while Cheyenne Rivenburg turned in another strong performance for Little Falls with eight.
“It went both ways,” Marchese said. “We had our opportunities; we just didn’t capitalize.”
After the game Olmstead and Morotti were selected as the tournament’s most valuable players for their teams and Abel was presented with the Golden Hands award. Mountie Sarah Bruins and and Beaver Brittany Widrick received sportsmanship awards.