Generals win Region 3 men’s soccer championship
Herkimer, NY – The two top-rated teams in the nation met in the Region 3 championship game in Wehrum Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Both the Genesee CC Cougars and the Herkimer Generals played very well, holding each other scoreless until the very end. Finally, with 3:15 left in the second overtime period, the Generals' Charlie Anderson scored, and Herkimer won the game 1-0.
It was a grand afternoon of soccer – one of those games in which it's a shame that one team has to lose. Both teams gave performances that earned the respect of all fans, whether they be Cougars, Generals, or neutrals.
Photo: Pete McAvoy goes for a header after an overlapping run
Playing conditions were good. The Herkimer hilltop had been foggy earlier, but by game time the weather was fine. The threatened rain did not happen, so fans and players enjoyed a dry, if gray, afternoon.
Herkimer began the game without two key players. Sparkplug Jordan Stoddart was out nursing a fracture. Also, Herkimer's superb wing Korab Syla injured his ankle in the Saturday game and had to be held out of the Sunday starting lineup. However, Syla tested that ankle and entered the game in its 22nd minute. Despite his discomfort, Syla went on to be a key player in this championship event.
Photo: Korab Syla with a throw in
The Generals went on the attack early. A good Herkimer strike produced a near-miss in just the second minute of the game.
Both teams were sharp from the beginning. The fans saw a lot of crisp passing, all-out sprinting, tight defense, and creative playmaking by both the blue-shirted visitors (who were technically the home team by virtue of their #1 seeding) and by the Green & Gold. Both squads attacked and counterattacked. Both goalkeepers were sharp – Jake O'Leary in the Genesee goal and Triston Henry in front of the Herkimer net. The first half was a splendid period of soccer. It ended with the score nil-nil.
The second half began with more good play. Twelve minutes into the half, Genesee launched a very good strike, but Herkimer's Henry took charge, ended the offensive play, and sent the Generals back upfield.
Just after the midway point, the Cougars made another great attack, but Herkimer fullback Pete McAvoy blocked the Big Cats' strong cross, ending the threat.
The Generals were controlling more of the play, but the Cougars still threatened. With 15 minutes left in regulation, a Cougar strike was stopped only by two acrobatic saves by Henry and a sliding block by Herkimer left back Mike Kuss.
Herkimer also came very close to scoring. Late in the half, Michael Pope almost tallied, but O'Leary somehow stopped the shot on the goal line.
Photo: Cougar Jake O'Leary stops the ball on the goal stripe
Herkimer was not finished. With 55 seconds left in regulation time, Charlie Anderson was open near the Cougars' six-yard line. Anderson had a great chance to score, but his shot went wide left. The game was headed into golden-goal overtime.
The Generals controlled most of the first 10-minute overtime period, but despite having two corner kicks, O'Leary and company kept Herkimer from scoring.
The second overtime period was as tense as the game can get. Herkimer had two more corner kicks and a direct kick from 30 yards, but could not beat the Big Cats' goalie. Genesee had a 35-yard direct kick, but the Generals thwarted it. Then, with less than four minutes before the game would have been decided by penalty kicks, Korab Syla set up the winning goal.
Syla had been masterful on each wing, deftly dodging defenders and serving good balls to his forwards. This time Syla went up the left wing and sent a low service to Anderson. Anderson did not hesitate – he spiked a shot that went up and over O'Leary and into the net.
Herkimer had won with 3:15 left. The Generals were the 2012 Region 3 Champions by virtue of a 1-0 victory.
Photo: Charlie Anderson's winning shot heads for the top of the net
The win gives Herkimer an amazing 23 consecutive Region 3 championships. The Generals will now represent Region 3 in the national championship tournament, which Herkimer will host on November 8, 9, and 11.
Two videos are available below.
Nick Scribe, website writer
Scoring: Genesee – none, Herkimer – Anderson 1g, Syla 1a
Corner kicks: Herkimer 8, Genesee 2
Saves: Genesee (O'Leary) 5, Herkimer (Henry) 3
Records: Both teams are now 17-2-0
The all-tournament team and two other awards were announced after the game.
Robert Sprague, SUNY Adirondack
Thomas Debenham, SUNY Adirondack
Dylan Palacio, Tompkins Cortland CC
Kyle Clark, Tompkins Cortland CC
Declan Brennan, Genesee CC
Nathan Rose, Genesee CC
Liam Ross, Genesee CC
Peter McAvoy, Herkimer CCC
Korab Syla, Herkimer CCC
Charlie Anderson, Herkimer CCC
Photo: Herkimer's All-Tournament Team members, from left: Henry, Syla, McAvoy, Anderson
Tournament Most Valuable Player
Triston Henry, Herkimer CCC
Region 3 Coach of the Year
Damian Jepsen, SUNY Adirondack
Region 3 Player of the Year
Samuel Naiwo, SUNY Adirondack
Photo: The 2012 Region 3 Champion Herkimer Generals
Video: A Herkimer direct kick and near-miss
Video: Coach Aragon's postgame interview