Kuhen saves huge, Birds unable to score
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
Cornered: Schalmont’s R.J. Hayden tries to dribble away from Voorheesville defenders Sam Miranda, left, and Sean Nolan during Tuesday’s Colonial Council soccer game in Voorheesville. The contest decided first place in the division, and the Sabres won, 1 to 0, to stay undefeated this season.
VOORHEESVILLE — Facing a strong Schalmont attack, goalkeeper Cedric Kuhen kept Voorheesville in the game with stellar saves. However, the Blackbirds couldn’t give Kuhen any goal support.
Making some truly remarkable stops on Tuesday, Kuhen, an exchange student from Germany, finished with 21 saves. Not bad for a kid that arrived in America one month ago.
“One player was always standing right in front of me, and I couldn’t move,” said Kuhen, referring to the times when Schalmont was within close vicinity to the goal. “It was weird. They were rough, too. It was a good game.”
The Sabres, undefeated this season, and playing to keep the Blackbirds out of first place in the Colonial Council, took more than a few cracks at Kuhen in the first 55 minutes of play. Kuhen had already dived to stop a few Schalmont shots, but a slight touch by Zach Ericson on a break- away was enough to beat him.
Ericson had beaten Voorheesville defender Ethan Campana, so Kuhen came out to challenge. Ericson easily put the ball past Kuhen, and that’s the only goal Schalmont needed to leave with a win.
“He was phenomenal,” senior Logan Hotaling said of Kuhen, his teammate. “The goal was unfortunate, frustrating; he’s playing so well, and we’re trying to keep up on our end of the deal.”
The Blackbirds didn’t possess the ball very well in the first 60 minutes of play, defending a lot, and giving the ball back to the Sabres. In the final 20 minutes, Voorheesville settled down and played better, almost connecting on a few chances.
“You get tired, stretched, and the opponent gets more opportunities,” Head Coach Willie Sanchez said of Voorheesville’s lack of possession. “It doesn’t always happen, but they kept competing; that’s a strength you can build on. If you continue to fight, work, and be in the game, you’ll make some progress.”
Schalmont won the game, but also had a difficult time scoring. The team had 21 shots, but only one hit the net.
“He was fantastic,” Sanchez said of Kuhen, who made Schalmont’s coach, Jason Beck, gasp after a series of saves in the second half. “That’s soccer,” said Sanchez. “It’s hard to score.”
Coming into Tuesday’s match-up, both Voorheesville and Schalmont had scored 23 goals on the season through six games. The Birds had allowed five goals, and the Sabres only one; Tuesday’s win increased its shutout streak to six games.
Schalmont (7-0) has several talented players, and Sanchez said it took Voorheesville (5-2) some time to get up to the speed of play, although Sanchez was pleased with the Birds’ effort and will to never quit.
“We need to learn how to compete against guys who are, maybe, a little more talented,” said Sanchez. “We’re almost there. You have to play with speed, be at practice, compete against each other, and go full out.”
After being in Class C for several years, Voorheesville is playing up in Class B this season. The Blackbirds may see Schalmont again in sectionals, as well as Ichabod Crane, which leads Colonial Council Division 2, already tallying 41 goals.
Voorheesville played Ichabod Crane tough on Sept. 17, losing 2 to 0. Coming up one goal short against Schalmont on Tuesday, the Birds can take the loss as a learning experience.
“We were unlucky,” Hotaling said. “That happens a lot in soccer.”