Two sets of Spartans are lighting up area girls soccer. There’s New Hartford, who in the process of getting to 5-0 has outscored its opponents by a combined 37-1 (including Marcellus and Whitesboro) with 12 different players netting goals, and then would challenge Baldwinsville this week. Then there’s East Syracuse Minoa, who, on the way to a 5-0 start, knocked off two-time reigning sectional Class AA champion Fayetteville-Manlius 1-0 and then, a week later, bashed previously unbeaten Central Square 6-1 behind four goals and two assists from freshman Leah Rehm. All of this was a prelude to ESM challenging Skaneateles on Thursday night, and still two games against Jamesville-DeWitt.
There was also some turnover in area girls soccer among the small schools, or more specifically the rivalry between Marcellus and Westhill. The Warriors had won its first six games and surrendered just two goals in them, but after years of getting beat up by its long-time neighbors, the Mustangs arrived at Westhill on Tuesday night and prevailed 1-0, playing superb defense and midfield and getting a goal by Annaliese Bird early in the second half that held up. This followed Marcellus knocking off its other main rival, Skaneateles, 4-1 the previous Saturday as Poland remains undefeated among Class D sides at 6-0 and Cazenovia turned back Chittenango 5-1 last weekend to gain the advantage in that local rivalry.
Turning to boys soccer, while not at the blistering pace it set during its first few games, Fayetteville-Manlius got itself to 7-0 with back-to-back shutouts of Whitesboro and Liverpool following its big win over Baldwinsville on October 12. By contrast, the Bees were upended at home by West Genesee 1-0, a remarkable result given that the Wildcats were 1-4 going into that game but had taken B’ville to overtime earlier this month. East Syracuse Minoa is still undefeated among Class A sides, the result of impressive wins over the likes of Central Square, but now comes Thursday’s game against reigning state Class B champion Skaneaeteles, who turned back Marcellus 1-0 to keep control of that long-time rivalry.
The contrast in how many games have been played in boys soccer is vast. There’s large-school sides with seven games in the books and, on the other hand, Bishop Ludden just played its second game against Tully. This has really affected both SCAC Empire division and Onondaga High School League teams because of a big COVID-19 outbreak in Cortland County, which has halted seasons at, among other schools, Cortland and Homer. A clash of Tri-Valley League rivals had Whitesboro edging New Hartford 1-0. Also impressive is Mater Dei Academy, the small school from Warners who has won five of its first six games, and will now challenge the likes of Marcellus and Skaneateles late this fall.
The field hockey season has not been free from interruptions due to weather or COVID-19. For example, Cazenovia has played just three games with numerous postponements, Rome Free Academy has only taken the field twice (winning both) and Cato-Meridian not playing this fall, but Cicero-North Syracuse is a robust 7-0, not allowing a goal until the sixth game against East Syracuse Minoa, but still winning that game 4-1 and then getting a tough 2-1 decision over Fayetteville-Manlius a couple of nights later. Holland Patent has won its first four games of the season, the Golden Knights pummeling its opponents by a combined 38-2 as it awaited games this week against New York Mills and Little Falls.
Among last week’s boys cross country races was a unique four-team event which took place at Tully. It featured Skaneateles, Westhill and Liverpool, and the best runner was Caleb Bender, the Lakers’ 2019 state Class C champion who beat all of the Warriors’ top runners, even though Liverpool did claim team honors. Also impressive was Cicero-North Syracuse turning back Baldwinsville and Jamesville-DeWitt handling Central Square. This is a busy week with Wednesday meets involving OHSL, Tri-Valley League and Center State Conference teams before the Saturday shift for the large schools that includes C-NS battling Liverpool at Long Branch Park, a great test of both team’s depth.
When looking at girls cross country, it’s evident among the SCAC Metro division sides that Fayetteville-Manlius only has to worry about Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse. First, though, the Warriors and Northstars meet each other this Saturday, with the likelihood that Kate Putman would pull away from the rest of the indviduals as she awaits her opportunity later this season to challenge the Hornets, led by the Kaercher sisters. When Liverpool had a race against Tully late last week, Brooke Rauber managed to out-run all of the Warriors’ runners by more than three minutes. In terms of Tri-Valley League teams, Rome Free Academy has gained the upper hand after getting a full sweep of last week’s meets against Central Valley Academy and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
The five boys golf teams in the Salt City Athletic Conference Empire division gathered last Thursday at Green Lakers, and it was Oswego emerging victorious, scoring 393 to beat Jamesville-DeWitt by 14 strokes as Ryan Bartlett shot a 74 to claim individual honors by three shots over the field. Not stopping there, both J-D and Oswego challenged Baldwinsville this week and the Red Rams tied the Bees 193-193. Of course, SCAC Metro teams B’ville, Fayetteville-Manlius Green and Cicero-North Syracuse all finished within close range of each other, whlie in the Onondaga High School League the best seasons were put together by Westhill, Cazenovia and Skaneateles, though some matches remain.
At its quarterly meeting, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s executive committee made some big moves. Chief among them was adding a team component to the state boys and girls tennis tournaments starting in 2021 – previously, only singles and doubles state titles were awarded. Also, two liberos can be used in boys volleyball and at-large bids to the state wrestling tournament were tweaked. But the state ice hockey “Frozen Four” will stay at Buffalo’s HarborCenter through 2023, the venue having seen a trio of memorable state tournament starting in 2017 that included Section III pulling a clean sweep with Syracuse in Division I and Skaneateles in Division II in 2019.
Meanwhile, the winter sports season remains in question. During one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s conference calls last week, state budget director Robert Mujica said that the governor’s office would make some kind of decision early in November. As of now, winter sports are scheduled to start practices November 30, but basketball, ice hockey and wrestling are not yet cleared because they remain “high-risk” and indoors. One encouraging hint comes from the fact that New Jersey is having these winter sports with limited spectator capacity – similar to what NYSPHSAA had already put forward, and as of now nothing in fall sports has led to a large COVID-19 spread, so fingers remain crossed.