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soccersve_1_120The Lansing boys’ soccer team was expecting a tightly played match last night for the Section IV Semi-Final game versus a game Spencer Van Etten team, so they knew they had to come out aggressive and set the tone early. What they may not have expected though, was to garner 2 quality goals in the first 6 minutes of the match.  Just 5 minutes into the first half, red-hot senior midfielder Sean Streb continued his fine play with a world-class strike from 25 yards, past a helpless Panther keeper.

The blast rattled the Lansing fans in attendance at Ithaca High School, and raised the energy levels for both teams. Just 30 seconds later, junior striker Ethan Kutler corralled the ball in the midfield, and played a magnificent through ball between 2 Panther backs to a streaking Ellington Hopkins, who calmly beat the keeper to his left with a crisp finish, putting Lansing up 2-0 and sending the partisan crowd into a frenzy.

soccersve_2_400Offensive star of the night, Sean Streb prepares to head his 2nd goal of the night over the Panther’s keeper and into the back of the net for the 4-0 final. Shown at top, Senior keeper Benji Parkes goes high to clean up a Spencer Van Etten cross in the first half of the Sectional Semi-Final victory at Ithaca High School

From there, the game turned a bit chippy as the physical play on both sides escalated and the Panthers tried to attack the Lansing defense down the right flank with long runs, and long balls over the top. The only real Panther threat of the night came off a hard, low cross from an attacking player in the corner. The ball found the feet of an unmarked SVE player who redirected the cross on frame, but an alert Jake Palladino was in the right place, at the right time to block the shot and preserve the Bobcats 2-0 heading into the intermission. Certainly, it was a heads up play by the junior defender that kept momentum in the Bobcats’ favor. At the half, Coach Adam Heck complimented his players for their hot start and ball possession, but warned them that the next goal in the game would be telling. “2-0 is the most dangerous score in soccer, whoever scores the next goal will take control of the game, let’s make sure its us!” he implored. 

The Bobcats came out well organized in the 2nd half, determined to put the Panthers away by controlling the flow of the game with solid possession and stout defense.  At the 35-minute mark, things got interesting and the momentum of the game was temporarily in flux. Junior striker Ethan Kutler made a darting run into the right side of the Panther defense, and upon nearing their 18-yard box, played a low and hard cross into the 6-yard box to a streaking Hopkins. As he was playing the ball, Kutler was fouled hard, and just as Ellington was redirecting the ball into the back of the Panther net, the referee blew the whistle signaling a free kick to the Bobcats. By rule, the play should have been allowed to continue in the Bobcats advantage, resulting in a 3rd goal, but the official called the goal off and awarded a free kick to Lansing on the right side of the 18-yard box.

soccersve_4_400Senior midfielder Troy Hradisky goes up high to win a ball in the air on Wednesday night.

Calmly, the Bobcats refocused their selves for the impending free kick in an attempt to get the goal back. Kutler played a hard ball across the box but just a bit long, but the quick footed Hopkins tracked it down before it crossed the end line and played a 1 time ball across the goal mouth to a waiting Benji Geisler. The sophomore midfielder quickly redirected the ball into the back of the net with his right foot, putting the Bobcats up 3-0, and securing momentum for good. From there, the Bobcats could pick and choose their spots to attack, and protect their 3-goal lead with smart team defense. When the Panthers committed one of their 11 fouls on the night, junior midfielder Cobi Byrne stepped up and floated a long ball to an unmarked Streb, who deftly headed the ball past the SVE keeper for the final 4-0 result. Tri captain Streb seemed to be everywhere last night, and his 2 goals were a strong testament to his work ethic and determination to lead the offensive game plan of the Bobcats, “We possessed the ball well tonight, as a team, that was the key to the game”.

For the game, Lansing took 12 shots and 4 corner kicks, to 2 and 1 for the Panthers; and Bobcat keeper Benji Parkes had 1 save to 6 for the Panther keeper. The win advances the Bobcats to the Section IV Finals, to be played in Oneonta at the Soccer Hall of Fame on Saturday at a time to be determined.

Photos courtesy of Richard Warkenton

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