Pin It
soccer_tully_120The 2011 Lansing Bobcats soccer team overcame strong winds, some early nervous play, and some curious officiating in the first half to defeat the Tully Black Knights on Sunday afternoon at Morrisville State College. In doing so, the Bobcats moved to 20-0 on the season, captured their first Regional Championship since 2004, and advanced to the New York state, Class C semi-finals next weekend in Middletown.

Having only been behind once all season, the Bobcats nearly found their selves on the short end of a 1-0 score for the second time this year, and in fact they were, for about 5 seconds. After a dangerous cross into the Bobcats 18-yard box off a Black Knight corner, keeper Benji Parkes couldn’t control the ball cleanly and it came down right into the hands of a defenseless Sean Streb, resulting in a penalty being awarded to Tully.

Leading scorer Tom Lamson stepped to the spot and calmly beat Parkes to the left side, putting Tully up 1-0, or so it seemed. While the Tully faithful were celebrating their early lead, the center official waived the goal off, citing an encroachment violation by another Tully player and keeping the game scoreless.

Given a reprieve, the Bobcats started to slowly control the pace and flow of the game by probing the Tully defense for openings. It only took a few minutes for a scoring chance, as junior Ellington Hopkins played a beautiful through ball into the path of sophomore Benji Geisler who split two Tully defenders on his way into the 18-yard box. Geisler beat his mark, and was a step away from a point blank shot when he was taking down from behind, clearly fouled inside the Black Knight’s 18-yard box. Inexplicably, there was no call on the play and the Bobcats were left to wonder what might have been as they headed into the half with a scoreless tie.

soccer_tully_4Junior defender, Timmy Arleo goes high to clear a ball from the Lansing box in their Regional Championship game. Shown at top, Junior center back Spencer Warkentin contains a Black Knights defender during the 1st half of their victory last Sunday in Morrisville.

At the half, Coach Adam Heck implored his young team to remain calm, realize that the wind would be to their advantage, to exert their possession style of play for 40 minutes, and the game would be theirs. “In the first half, we weren’t linking up very well because our forwards and midfielders weren’t timing their runs.” I told them “we needed to just calm down and keep our feet moving, and that we’d be fine.”  And follow that advice they did. To the delight of the large Lansing faithful in attendance, the 2nd half saw the Bobcats display the style of play that generated over 120 goals on the season.  Gradually, Lansing started to find space enough to put some crosses and shots on the Tully goal, and it seemed that it was only a matter of time before a crack was found.

At the 17-minute mark, Lansing’s dynamic duo of, junior Ethan Kutler and Geisler coordinated more of their offensive magic to produce the game winner for the Bobcats. Kutler took a feed outside Tully’s 18-yard box, side dribbled a defender to create a shooting lane, and ripped a hard, right-footed shot that was partially blocked and popped into the air. An alert Geisler stepped behind the Tully defenders, spun to his right and ripped a left footed volley that Black Knight keeper Ryan O’Mara could only watch hit the back of the net. The strike was Geisler’s 29th and certainly most important goal of the year. With renewed confidence and patience, the Lansing defensive backs were able to diffuse any serious attempts on their goal, while their offensive handlers were able to maintain enough possession to effectively work the clock in their favor.

soccer_tully_teamThe Lansing Bobcats Boys’ soccer team celebrates their first Regional Championship since 2004 after their 1-0 victory over Tully High School

After more than 20 minutes of high pressure, the clock struck zero with Lansing earning a hard fought, 1-0 victory and a ticket to the Class C Final Four. Senior keeper Benji Parkes was confident in goal after some early jitters, and junior center back Spencer Warkentin was seemingly everywhere, diffusing Tully attacks by winning loose balls and controlling the air. Warkentin has quietly established his self as one of the better center defenders in the area with his consistent and physical play, while also displaying the kind of leadership that sophomore Jake Palladino and junior Timmy Arleo needed over the course of the season. Junior midfielder Cobi Byrne also had an outstanding day, containing the Black Knights’ attack in the middle third of the field, and helping to spark Lansing counterattacks with strong tackling. 

Photos courtesy of Richard Warkenton

Pin It