HERKIMER COUNTY CC 1, GENESEE CC 0, overtime
The role of underdog suited the Herkimer County Community College Generals Sunday. They outlasted top seed Genesee Community College and won Region III’s Division III title match 1-0 in double overtime at Wehrum Stadium.
“To be honest, I don’t mind coming in as the underdog,” said coach Pepe Aragon after the Generals secured their 23rd consecutive regional championship.
The teams went scoreless until Charlie Anderson took a cross from Korab Syla in the right corner and banged a shot past goalkeeper Jake O’Leary with 3:45 left in the second overtime period.
Genesee, the runner-up to Herkimer at last year’s national tournament, had beaten the Generals at home during the regular season. An injured Anderson sat out that match.
“I’m proud of this group of guys,” Aragon said. “Coming into this weekend we we were really banged up.”
Anderson sat out about a month of the season before returning for regionals and midfielder Craig McCabe also rejoined the lineup for the postseason. Jordan Stoddart, another midfielder, broke an ankle against Mohawk Valley Community College in the quarterfinals and Syla was questionable before Sunday’s match with a sore ankle.
“That just shows how deep we are.”
Both teams had scoring chances during regulation and overtime but O’Leary and Herkimer County Community College goalie Triston Henry, the tournament’s most valuable player, stood up to their challenges — and sometimes they got some help.
Herkimer defender Michael Kuss saved a goal when Henry got caught away from the net with less than 16 minutes left in regulation. Genesee’s Dominic Francis shot toward the open net and Kuss slid from behind the ball to deflect wide to the right of the goal.
Henry added two spectacular saves of his own — “two of the most unbelievable saves of all-time,” in Aragon’s words — against Genesee pressure late in the match.
Anderson almost kept the match from going to overtime on a play not unlike the one that ended it. A defender failed to get his head on a chip from Syla in the corner and Anderson rolled an undefended shot wide of the left post. He had previously missed wide once and high another time on headers in the first half.
The Generals took charge of the second overtime period as soon as the whistle blew. They earned the first of back-to-back corner kicks less than 30 second into the period. They were then awarded a direct kick even with the top of the penalty area from the right and McCabe’s shot was saved by O’Leary who ended up on the ground with his body in the goal and the ball safely on the other side of the line.
Page 2 of 2 - The win keeps Herkimer active for the eight-team national tournament on its home field beginning Nov. 8. The loss ends the season for Genesee which joined the Generals in the national tournament when the region had a second bid.