Gators Edge Trojans In Game Between Two Of CCAA’s Best
In a meeting of two Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association boys soccer leaders under the lights at Charles A. Lawson on Monday night, it was no surprise that just one goal proved decisive.
Bryant Talbot picked up his 16th of the season to lead Allegany-Limestone to a 1-0 nonleague win over Southwestern in a defensive battle that could have gone either way.
The Gators improved to 10-2 on the year and are a perfect 6-0 in the East Division, while Southwestern fell to 8-5 and remains a perfect 7-0 atop the West.
“We saw them in playoffs last year, we know who they are. That’s why we played them, because we are expecting and hoping to see them in playoffs,” said Southwestern head coach Jason Deering. “For us, I think we needed a game against competition where we showed up and played as hard as we did tonight. This was a primer for the playoffs, this was a very important game for us. The things we’re working on we came out and did tonight, and it showed that when we do the things we want to do the way we want to do it we can play with anybody in the class.”
Deering was pleased with the way his Trojans were able to control the tempo of the game through the first half. Ten minutes into the action, Talbot had a chance on a free kick for the Gators, but Addison Pope blocked the attempt.
Southwestern followed that up with its first offensive chances as Marcus Kautzman struck a crossing ball that was snagged by Allegany-Limestone keeper Jack Conroy. After that save, Michael Carnes fed Simon Pirrello for a good opportunity, but that shot found its way over the crossbar.
Max Vaughn and McKay Young had a pair of good looks following that series for the Trojans. Vaughn was able to win a ball in traffic for a volley that flew high of the mark, while Young dribbled his way in tight for a shot that was ripped off the body of a charging Conroy. Michael Wolfgang and Talbot returned fire with chances of their own for Allegany-Limestone, on a long shot and a cross in close respectively.
Leading the Trojans back defensive line has been the strong play of Pope as well as junior Miracle Berakah.
“They have been fantastic, those two, and they keep us in games back there,” said Deering. “They keep guys off of us, our goalies don’t have much work in any of our games this year and it’s thanks to those guys right there.”
The Gators threatened late in the first half, while Southwestern got out to a hot start in the second period with chances by Kautzman and Vaughn.
With 20 minutes left to play, it looked like Noah Paterniti might have a chance to put Allegany-Limestone on the board, but the junior midfielder had his shot blocked by another key play on the backend from Southwestern. As the clock ticked down to 12:30, Talbot made the most of his next chance.
Paterniti fired a ball from the left side into the Trojans’ back line, which deflected off a defender and on to the foot of Talbot for a volley finish past netminder Declan Brown.
“We had our chances, their defense played strong, we couldn’t get through the middle of the field so we had to go to the outside,” said Allegany-Limestone coach Jon Luce. “It’s one of those balls that just kind of bounces off the defensive line a little bit and we had a guy sitting there to put it home.”
Southwestern continued to step on the gas down the stretch, trying desperately to even things up with chances from Young, who was awarded a free kick with seconds remaining. Striking a clean ball from the 20-yard line, Young’s shot found the Allegany-Limestone defensive wall for the last chance of the night.
“It was good to play against a really strong team, on a great surface in a great atmosphere,” said Luce. “We knew they were going to be a good possessive team coming in. We have some history with them from last year, so we knew coming in it was going to be a good game. We had to hold our own. We’re starting to get healthy, which is really good, coming along at the right time. We were struggling at the beginning of the year to score goals so to have that type of performance against a really good team was very positive going forward.”