Kayla Greco | Democrat
Eldred’s Seb Schadt (8) dribbles past a Smithtown Christian’s Ben Damon during Tuesday’s state pre-regional game at Middletown’s Faller Field.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MIDDLETOWN November 8, 2013 Fresh off its first-ever Section IX boy's soccer title last week, Class D champ Eldred (9-7-2) was looking to keep the trend going with its maiden state tournament win.
Section 11’s Smithtown Christian, though, wasn't too keen on helping a young Yellowjackets squad to another milestone on Friday. After a scoreless first half, the Christians were finally able to leverage their huge possession edge outshooting Eldred 3-0 and taking three corner kicks to Eldred's zero in the first half in a 4-0 victory at Faller Field.
"Regardless, I got to play with just a great group of guys," said Eldred senior Christian D'Angelo. "We all kind of knew we had to be comfortable with and trusting of each other and that's what made it possible for us to get here. It feels really good that we made the state tournament. It also stinks that we lost."
Eldred was in a familiar position Friday, as just the week prior in the Section IX Class D title game, the Yellowjackets went into the locker room at Faller Field knotted at 0 with the Family School. Eldred played some inspired ball in the second half of that game en route to a 3-0 victory.
Smithtown picked up the action 13 minutes into the second half when Matthew Drzymala's low kick made its way past Eldred goalie Dylan Wolff for the match's first tally.
"Just got passed me," said Wolff of Drzymala's boot. "I should have had that one.”
Eldred looked primed to tie the contest at the 13:55 mark, when what appeared to be a goal from senior Peter Vorstadt was stopped just short of the line by Smithtown's goalkeeper. Just moments later, Smithfield quickly transitioned to the opposite end of the field and scored again when Charles Bellini, assisted by Jeremiah Shaw, drilled a shot past Wolff.
"Listen to me it's not over yet," yelled Eldred's first year coach Sonia Kidney to her young team. "Now go," she implored.
With 7:03 left in the contest Giovanni Cervini blasted a direct kick awarded to Smithtown after an overwhelmed Dominic Roselli brought down a Christian player from behind to the back of the net to put the game out of reach at 3-0.
Timothy Voisich added the match's final goal at the 5:39 mark on yet another direct kick.
"We did good [this season]," said Kidney. "It was just awesome to get this far and my guys were amazing and worked very hard to get here. This was just a tough game for us. We knew what was coming but yet it was still a surprise. This is something we'll learn from and grow and build on."
"I told them at the half that everyone on the field had to be covered for us to have a chance tonight," continued Kidney. "We needed to cut off those easy passing lanes and keep possession of the ball. We didn't quite get it done, though.
With six graduating seniors only two of them starters Kidney looks forward to a strong returning core next season.
"We're a young team," she offered. "This is the first year we had a good, strong group come out to play. We were able to put together a team that could bring us this far. For those who'll be returning it was a lesson learned, but for those who'll be leaving, it's a sad story and I understand that."
"It's crazy," said Vorstadt. "Coming from being a 10th grader two seasons ago and sitting on the bench watching us get beat to all of this is just crazy to think about."
Regarding the success his team experienced this year, Vorstadt explained, "It was just team play all season. Last year was very tough, even though we had the same players. This year, coach emphasized team play and I think that's what brought us this far."
As for his team's dominance as far as possession went Friday evening, Smithtown coach Pat Nieto said, "That's our style. We work on that all year long and I think it's finally something we've kind of mastered. This is when we're supposed to be peaking and I think we're hitting our mark at the right time right now."
Having finished their season with a mediocre 6-7-1 record, Nieto explained, "Part of that was injuries and part of it was our tough mixed schedule. A lot of our games are against A, B and C schools. The record may not look right, but we're playing top, much larger teams a lot of the season. I think it actually benefits us in the long run."
Smithtown Christian will need to summon up all of those benefits Saturday when they face Section II (Albany area) Fort Ann (18-1-0) at Colonie High-School in Albany. Fort Ann has won four straight Section II titles; knocking out the Section IX representative each of the past three seasons.