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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 5, 2009
Blackbirds post double 1-0 wins to earn spot in Class CC finals
By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE This week, the Blackbird soccer team has knocked off two opponents with strong traditions of winning and may be on the road to building one of its own.
Voorheesville completed back-to-back 1-to-0 victories over Galway at home on Saturday and Maple Hill in Johnstown on Wednesday night. The wins landed the Birds in the Class CC final this Saturday at noon against Schoharie in Colonie.
“I think the weight has been lifted off our shoulders a little bit because we’ve lost the past few semi-final games up to this point,” Head Coach Willie Sanchez said on Wednesday after the game. “I was talking to my players about the Voorheesville teams of the ‘80s and ‘90s and how they were always the team to beat. I want us to get back to that level again.”
David Suozzo slid the ball past the Maple Hill keeper 15 minutes into the contest after the ball rebounded off of a Chris Dimmitt corner kick. That turned out to be all the offense the Blackbirds needed, while the defense took care of the rest.
“Both teams defended really well and we were able to get some rhythm and possession to settle things down,” Sanchez said. “Maple Hill expects to win, so beating them gives us a real push.”
Voorheesville was without starting senior midfielder Zack Keller on Wednesday after he got a red card in the win over Galway. Junior Zach Jones stepped up in Keller’s place and youngster Kevin Clark made his first start of the season.
“My players really wanted to win for Keller to give him another chance,” said Sanchez. “Jones did a great job in his place and everyone’s leaving here with a smile.”
Getting over the hump
Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Galway was a physical battle that ended with 28 total fouls and plenty of emotion.
Blackbird keeper Joe Keenan got airborne with 16:47 remaining in the first half to squander the Eagles’ first real chance on net. Dimmitt sent a screaming shot to goal within the 10-minute mark that was saved by Reinhold Schaperjahn.
With about five minutes left in the half, Keenan collided with Galway’s Cameron Smith to make a save on a free kick. Moments later, Joe Cillis was taken down in the box and the Eagles almost put in their own goal on a missed clear attempt.
The first half ended in a scoreless tie after Voorheesville tried to get a direct kick off with 20 seconds to go. The referee delayed Cillis and he was forced to rush the kick, spoiling the play.
“Sectional games are always going to be a challenge,” Sanchez said after the game on Saturday. “Galway forced us to play their physical style and we were taken out of our usual rhythm.”
The Birds got the winning goal 10 minutes into the second half when Keller flew in out of nowhere to get his head on a Dimmitt corner kick. Schaperjahn never had a chance on the lightning-fast play.
“I figured Keller would go to the ball because he always does,” said Dimmitt.
Trevor Gibbins gave Galway a legitimate chance in the 64th minute when he got free in the box. However, Keenan made the save of the season and moved Voorheesville to the next round.
Now, the Blackbirds will play a Schoharie team this Saturday that shared a Western Athletic Conference title this year. Voorheesville has seen the Indians a few times before.
“I expect to see a highly contested game,” said Sanchez. “We must dictate to help our chances. We’re riding some serious confidence right now.”