Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Liberty boys’ and girls’ soceer teams had to reason to celebrate Saturday at Monticello High School, sweeping the championship games of the first-ever Robert Van Etten Soccer tournament. The boys’ team defeated Fallsburg 2-1 in overtinme while the girls topped Monticello 3-1.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO October 1, 2013 Though exhausted after playing a game on Friday and 80 minutes of regulation on Saturday, Liberty's Brendan Siegel was a little spent. He was about 150 feet away from the Fallsburg goal in sudden death of the Robert Van Etten Soccer Tournament and figured he's going to try to end the game with one killer shot.
He drew back his right leg as far as he could, fired it through the ball with a resounding boom and watched it sail high and fast toward the goal. At the last second, the ball curled left and down just under the crossbar and into the net giving Siegel and Liberty a dramatic 2-1 victory. As tired as the Indians were, they exuberantly celebrated Siegel's dagger on the Monticello High School field with a lot of jumping, hugging and hollering near the Fallsburg net.
It was the first of two titles for Liberty Saturday as the Lady Indians won the girls’ championship over host Monticello.
"I had no clue that was going in," said an elated Siegel after the match. "I figured I'd just go up and rip it. That was our best chance, man." Added Siegel, "It was straight at the goal. I wasn't trying to hit anything else."
"That was a great shot," said Fallsburg coach Darren Kinne. "He took the opportunity and really bent it down. I think our keeper had a chance on it, but I think he was just shocked it was coming at him so quick. It really took a nice little curl down at the end and kinda just snuck under the bar."
Having just lost 3-1 to the Indians on Wednesday, Fallsburg came into this tournament final looking to even the score.
"Absolutely. There was a little bit of revenge on our minds," said Kinne. "They got us at our place earlier in the week and the past few days of practice we were definitely thinking about that."
The Comets took an early first half lead on a goal from senior mid-fielder Amato Gallo. They held on to that advantage through most of the contest similar to Wednesday’s game when Fallsburg also held an early 1-0 lead.
Liberty tied the score with 12 minutes remaining in the second half on a goal from senior Kilian Bloat, assisted by Nery Campos.
As time expired in regulation, the contest remained tied at 1-1 all, leading to an extra 20-minute sudden-death overtime period.
But Siegel, a junior center/midfielder wanted no part of a shootout for his weary team, which played the day before against Sullivan West.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the overtime period, and dead silence in the air, Siegel’s kick sounded like an explosion. It was that solid off his foot. The amazing shot sent the undefeated Liberty team (7-0) into a celebratory frenzy.
"It was perfect,” said Simpson. “I've seen him do that same shot in practice and I knew he had it in him. Sometimes those [shots] just have to drop your way. Though he's a junior, Brendan is already a captain for us. He's just very composed, he directs everyone and he has an amazing vision of the field as well. He's just a great all-around soccer player.” I really think both teams played just amazing soccer today. I'm very proud of my guys."
With the loss Fallsburg fell to 5-3 (1-1).
"They're a really good group of guys," added Kinne of Liberty. "We had a real hard-fought game today, and you know, we'll tip our hats to them and congratulations, but we'll be back.”
The noontime Robert Van Etten Jr. girls’ championship matched Liberty against tournament host, Monticello.
Late in the first half, at the 27:35 mark, Liberty senior captain Melissa Symanski scored giving the Lady Indians a 1-0 lead.
But just 10 minutes later, Monticello’s Alex Standt with an assist from Mackenzie Mitchell scored to tie the match at 1-1, where it stayed through halftime.
Twelve minutes into the second half Liberty struck again, this time courtesy of senior center/mid Rachel Bitjeman’s goal.
Though seemingly less athletic and experienced, the Monties gave it their best and hung with Liberty through most of the contest. But a header from Eileen Burke, just in front of goal with 15-minutes left in the match put the game out of reach and sealed the 3-1 championship victory for Liberty.
"The game plan coming in was to score as many goals as we could," said Liberty girls’ coach Ann Ramos. "We knew they [Monticello] had girls who could shoot the ball and shoot it well with accuracy.
"Monticello is always a smart, well-coached team and they're always a tough team to play. They have girls with excellent skills and they certainly hung in there. We pulled it together today and worked together really well.”
Ramos credited Liberty’s solid start this season (4-3) to a summer of hard work and preparation.
“My girls worked so hard preseason,” said Ramos. “We had seniors calling everybody to get up and go out and run, and that was without my involvement. They took the initiative themselves and worked all summer long and it's paying dividends because we're in real good shape out there. We have a really positive group of seniors who have the whole team organized and upbeat. They just really work for each other and watch out for each other and that really does make a big difference out there.
“Today we just tried a few people in different positions and it worked out pretty well. We have girls with great soccer IQs who are versatile enough that I'm comfortable putting them in various different positions and they just get the job done. That's just big and I'm also very, very proud of this wonderful group of girls."
Eldred won both the boys’ and girls’ consolation games, defeating Monticello 3-0 in the boys’ game and Fallsburg 1-0 in the girls’ game.
Liberty’s Keelin Bonilla (2) moves in on Monticello goalie Morgan Holloway in the championship game of the Robert Van Etten Soccer tournament. Holloway made the save, but Liberty won the game.