Girls soccer: Millbrook's season ends at state Class C semifinals

CORTLAND - Millbrook could not convert on its first corner kick in Saturday's girls soccer showdown with Waterford-Halfmoon. Moments later, the Section 2 champions made good on their first corner and it set the tone for their 3-0 state semifinal victory.

"We knew Waterford-Halfmoon was a very good team," Blazers coach Jerome Canzoneri said. "I thought we played as good as we could have."

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C girls soccer semifinal at Cortland High School was evenly played for the first few minutes and Canzoneri's Blazers had a good chance for an early score. Hudson Heitmann was denied a possible breakaway in the third minute by an alert W-H defender then earned a corner kick in the sixth minute. Emily Grasseler's corner kick went through the box untouched. Coach Meghan Reynolds' Fordians countered with a fastbreak that led to them taking the lead in the seventh minute..

Cassidy McClement sent a corner kick into the middle of the box and Mia O'Brien passed it to Izzy Vecchio. The junior's soft shot from close range went in off the crossbar as Millbrook goalie Ella Wilson had no chance.

W-H then began to dominate possession for the rest of the half. Seventh grade sensation Payton Galuski had three shots in the next nine minutes. Each time, Wilson was up to the task and stopped the shots. Millbrook caught a break when Imani Bloomfield, one of W-H's starters, left the game midway in the half due to a knee injury. But the Fordians (21-1) showed why they are the top-ranked team in the state as their deep bench helped them control play the next 20 minutes. Bloomfield returned and helped keep pressure on the Millbrook (14-3) defense, but the Section 9 champs kept the score at 1-0 until halftime's horn sounded.

"We have a solid roster," W-H coach Meghan Reynolds said of the key to her team keeping its poise at the time.

That solid roster kept pressure on to start the second half as well. Wilson deflected a shot on a Peyton Galuski shot early in the half then the defense did a great job stopping five W-H corner kicks in the next five minutes. Charley Moore made one of the better plays when she stopped an attempt by McClement.

Heitmann's effort in the 53rd minute got Millbrook deep in W-H's defensive third, but the Section 2 power cleared the ball. Grasseler then sent a great pass to Maddy Krueger in the 59th minute only to see her sophomore teammate's shot go wide.

The Fordians then regained momentum with a pair of corner kicks then scored an insurance goal in the 63rd minute. McClement made some good moves on the left sideline and found O'Brien unmarked 20 yards from the Millbrook goal. The freshman made the shot for a 2-0 lead. Wilson managed to get her hands on the shot but could not deflect it enough.

Millbrook still did not give up. The Section 9 champs earned a corner kick in the 67th minute and Grasseler's cross was right in the box. W-H goalie Maddy Atwood cut it off with a well-timed jump.

The Fordians went ahead 3-0 on an unassisted goal by Payton Galuski in the 75th minute.

Millbrook had one last chance to avoid a shutout as Grasseler had a direct kick in the 78th minute. Atwood's save clinched the 3-0 final.

"Getting this far with 13 kids is a blessing," Grasseler said of her team's challenge. "And we have a lot of younger kids. The younger players were nervous. They were on us. But we didn't quit. I have no regrets."

Wilson finished with eight saves for the Blazers while Atwood had two for the winners. W-H had a 13-2 edge in corners.

By the numbers

Millbrook (14-3): Saves - Ella Wilson 8.

Waterford-Halfmoon (21-1): Izzy Vecchio 1-0, Mia O'Brien 1-1, Cassidy McClement 0-2, Payton Galuski 1-0. Saves - Maddy Atwood 2.

This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Girls soccer: Millbrook falls to Waterford-Halfmoon in semis