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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 8, 2009
Voorheesville soccer shocks Schalmont in battle for first place
By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE Every game-winning goal is golden.
Joe Cillis took the game into his own hands for the Blackbirds minutes into the first overtime against Schalmont at home on Tuesday to give his team a 1-to-0 win and a share of first place in the Colonial Council.
The Sabres were alone in first place and undefeated in the league before Tuesday’s game and Voorheesville wanted a piece.
Cillis received the ball at the top of the box and split the defense, then headed towards the left of the goal. He struck the ball across the goal line past goalkeeper Nick Reali and into the right corner for the win.
“I was frustrated because our team had plenty of chances to win in regulation,” Cillis said after the game. “We don’t usually beat Schalmont, so I just went for it. I saw the defenders start to hesitate, so I just took them to the goal.”
“It was one of those spur-of-the-moment plays,” said Sabres Head Coach Jason Beck. The team has won 21 Colonial Council titles, including last year’s. “We had Cillis’s number all game, but we let him make a play.”
Blackbird Head Coach Willie Sanchez said that Schalmont is “usually” the team to beat every year and the Sabres won the first game against Voorheesville on Sept. 18 in Rotterdam.
“The league champions are always the best team until someone knocks them off,” said Sanchez. “I think we wore them down toward the end. It was a very emotional game because a lot was on the line.”
Cillis had some opportunities on goal in the first 10 minutes and one was saved by Reali, while the other two sailed wide of the net. The Blackbirds had the first corner kick of the game and Chris Dimmitt’s ball was headed over the goal.
Voorheesville had two more chances on a corner kick, but couldn’t get the ball on net. Dylan Struffolino snuck into the box for Schalmont and tried to chip one in, but it went high over the crossbar. Hayden Wood ripped a low shot that skipped wide left.
The Sabres didn’t have any notable chances in the first half and Cillis tried for a breakaway in the final minutes, but Steve Brucker beat him to the ball to break up the chance.
“It’s tough being a forward in soccer because you fail way more than you succeed,” Sanchez said. “Wood and Cillis hung in there today and kept fighting. I think they’re a lot for our opponents to handle and they’ll keep getting better. They’re always working at playing quicker.”
Schalmont earned more chances in the second half on direct kicks by Joe Amorosi. One of the kicks deflected and Blackbird keeper Joe Keenan had to dive for the stop. “I’m always trying to stop those free kicks,” said Keenan. “Amorosi was blasting them from way out.”
Wood was taken down at the top of the box with about 28 minutes left and Cillis took the direct kick. He hit a hard ball that sailed just over the top left corner of the goal.
“We had a lot of underestimated players last year that didn’t get time, but now they’re leading the team,” said Cillis. “We have a lot more team chemistry.”
Sanchez told The Enterprise that Voorheesville has more team-oriented strength than a year ago. Last season’s team was strong, but could only rely on a handful of players. “Chemistry gets you through those tough games,” he said. “This team picks each other up and stands together when times gets tough.”
The Blackbirds got another valuable chance when Marty Hesselbacher served a great ball into the box that Cillis got his head on, but Reali was there for the save. Wood hit a splitting Cillis with about 9:50 to go in the game and he ripped a shot off the post.
“We maintained composure and played good soccer despite the intensity of the game,” said Sanchez.
Voorheesville took a serious blow when Keenan received a yellow card after being taken out by a Schalmont player with about four minutes left. Keenan received the card for throwing the player off him. J.D. Springer had to replace Keenan in goal for a short period of time.
“That was a very scary part of the game for everybody involved,” said Keenan. “I was just trying to get the kid off me because there was an open goal. I was nervous for Springer, but we cleared it out.”
Regulation time ended in a scoreless tie and the rest was taken care of by Cillis. “He got some open space and I encourage forwards to go to the goal,” said Sanchez. “He put a perfect foot on it.”
Coach Sanchez said that the Blackbirds played “directly” because Tuesday’s game was demanding it. “We’re good at dictating the style of a game,” he said.
The team will have to prepare and stay focused, as the weather gets worse down the stretch. Voorheesville hosts a tough Albany Academy team today.
“This win will mean very little if we don’t play well until the end,” Sanchez said. “We can’t lose if we want to win the league. Everyone’s gunning for us.”