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Golden Cougars Come Up Short Against Roy-Hart, 2-1

Falconer/Cassadaga Valley’s Alex Hudson settles the ball during Monday’s Section VI Class B2 semifinal against Royalton-Hartland at Amherst High School. P-J photo by Scott Reagle

AMHERST — A quick start can be all it takes to win a soccer game.

Royalton-Hartland got one Monday evening.

Falconer/Cassadaga Valley did not.

Junior Peter Martillotta scored twice in the first half, including in the fourth minute of the game, and the third-seeded Rams held off the seventh-seeded Golden Cougars down the stretch for a 2-1 victory during a wet Section VI Class B2 semifinal at Dimp Wagner Alumni Field.

Royalton-Hartland will meet No. 5 Lackawanna for the title at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Williamsville South after the Steelers beat No. 1 Allegany-Limestone 4-1 in Monday’s second semifinal in Amherst. The Gators were the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association West Division champions and previously undefeated.

Falconer/Cassadaga Valley’s Chase Pierce looks to advance the ball during Monday’s Section VI Class B2 semifinal against Royalton-Hartland at Amherst High School’s Dimp Wagner Alumni Field. P-J photo by Scott Reagle

“I thought the guys came out a little flat in the first half,” Falconer/Cassadaga Valley head coach Nick Quattrone said. “As the game gradually went on they got more into the game and really gave them a good fight there at the end.”

Royalton-Hartland sophomore Jayden Swygert gave the Rams the jump-start they needed Monday when he stole a Falconer/Cassadaga Valley throw-in, dribbled down the sideline and then sent a cross in the middle of the 18-yard box that Martillotta one-touched past Golden Cougars goalkeeper Carson Olson into the back of the net with 35:15 showing on the clock.

“He’s just a phenomenal talent,” Quattrone said of Martillotta. “He’s got a really bright future.”

Despite taking the ball down the field immediately off the opening kickoff, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley was in defensive mode for much of the opening 20 minutes as Royalton-Hartland attempted to use the speed of Swygert and junior Aiden Guild to get by the Golden Cougars defenders.

Time and time again, junior Coleson Barber and his fellow teammates on the back line were able to keep the Rams at bay.

In the 22nd minute, Royalton-Hartland struck again. Olson made a nice save with 18:30 showing on the clock, but the ball glanced off his hands out of bounds resulting in a Royalton-Hartland corner kick.

Rams sophomore Remington Albee sent a line-drive ball into the 6-yard box that Olson attempted to catch, but conditions at the time — there were multiple downpours during the opening 40 minutes — made it so the ball slipped through his hands onto the waiting foot of Martillotta, who finished his team-leading 21st goal of the season and second of the game into the back of the net.

“I thought our defense really hampered down on him and gave him a really good challenge today,” Quattrone said of his team’s effort against Martillotta. “He’s a great player.”

Trailing 2-0 at halftime, the Golden Cougars did not let up, even though the rain did.

With 29:45 remaining, sophomore Finley Pavlok had what was Falconer/Cassadaga Valley’s best opportunity to that point when his right-footed shot was punched away from the corner of the goal by Royalton-Hartland junior goalkeeper Zack Walker.

Junior Adam Dossey then sent a 34-yard free kick toward the Rams’ goal with 16:06 remaining that was easily corralled by Walker.

Finally, with 8:31 left, the Golden Cougars got on the scoreboard.

Walker settled under what looked like a fairly harmless long ball, but much like Olson during the first half, was unable to catch the wet ball and Falconer/Cassadaga Valley junior Jacob Ansell pounced on the rebound for his fourth goal of the season.

“All of us on the bench had a big spring in our step,” Quattrone said. “I’m really happy for Jake. He’s one of our hardest workers. No guy deserves it more than that kid.”

The Golden Cougars pushed up in the final eight minutes, at one point even sending Olson inside the 18-yard box on a corner kick in the final minute, but were unable to score the equalizer.

“He’s our best player. He’s our defensive MVP and keeps us in games,” Quattrone said of his junior goalkeeper. “He gives our guys hope.”

With just two seniors on the roster, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley will likely be heard from again in the future.

“The last few years have been pretty tough for our program. These guys put a lot of work in during the offseason,” Quattrone said. “I would say they definitely shocked some people. I think it’s only going to get better.”

NOTES: Walker was credited with seven saves for the Rams and Olson made five saves for the Golden Cougars. … Ian Andersen and Jacob Ansell played their final games in a Falconer/Cassadaga Valley uniform.

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