As of the start of the second week of November, a full-bore winter sports season looked less likely. State officials announced that they weren’t inclined yet to alter the “high-risk” status of basketball, ice hockey, volleyball and wrestling that would constitute more than half the events in area high school sports in December through March in a typical winter. Teams could practice, but not compete, and any change of that status would likely require a change in the trend of COVID-19 cases, which were going up everywhere around the country and forcing cities in Upstate New York, like Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, into “yellow” zones that limited activities and forced large-scale testing at schools who may be forced to go all-remote again.
Just before this, Section III had okayed a change to the winter season, allowing practices in all sports to start December 14 and contests at the start of the new year. At least there will be some contests as, on the same Monday where state officials ruled out a change in basketball, wrestling, volleyball and ice hockey status, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association made official that the other low and moderate-risk sports, such as bowling, boys swimming and competitive cheer, can take place, and NYSPHSAA also okayed indoor track even though Section III said there wouldn’t be a season due to the lack of availability of facilities such as SRC Arena. Let’s see if the section changes its mind.
But at least for those who did get to the end of fall sports, there was warm, sunny weather that lasted a week. That included lots of boys soccer, where Fayetteville-Manlius would try to culminate a perfect season when it faced Baldwinsville Wednesday night. What made the situation more unique was that, while the Hornets continued to accumulate wins including a 12-2 romp over West Genesee, the Bees had to sit for two full weeks because a player tested COVID-19 positive. At first, the illness seemed to end B’ville’s season, but since no other players got ill, the team was able to return and get in a game or two, with the Bees eager to try and avenge a 3-1 defeat to F-M at Swan Pond on October 12.
It’s tough to tell who was the best Class A boys soccer team this fall. New Hartford got to 10-2 before a season finale with Central Valley Academy, while Jamesville-DeWitt had one win over East Syracuse Minoa and would go for another one this Saturday. Among the Class B sides, Westhill swept reigning state Class B champion Skaneateles (who had two key players go to club soccer this fall), the second of these games a 1-0 decision where Bo BenYehuda had the lone goal, and Clinton went 9-3. Westmoreland/Oriskany did a strong job among the Class C sides, and Poland continued its small-school dominance, climbing to 10-1 overall in advance of its season finale against Holland Patent.
It’s too bad that two sets of undefeated girls soccer Spartans never got to play this season. East Syracuse Minoa and New Hartford were set to face on November 2 but the snows postponed it. Moving on from there, ESM survived close calls with Auburn and Central Square to get to 11-0, while New Hartford got an impressive 3-0 shutout over reigning sectional Class AA champion Fayetteville-Manlius after they already beat Marcellus and Westhill. ESM would still need to be a much-weakened Jamesville-DeWitt a second time to finish off its perfect season and New Hartford would play a likely Tri-Valley League championship game on that same Saturday, perhaps against its main rival, Whitesboro.
By season’s end, it was Cicero-North Syracuse surpassing Baldwinsville and Fayetteville-Manlius as the top side in Class AA girls soccer with seven consecutive victories capped by knocking off B’ville 2-0 last week. Holland Patent soared to 9-1 with four wins in early November by a combined 18-3 margin, but for the Golden Knights the biggest test was likely to come on Thursday night when it challenged the undefeated Poland Tornadoes for a second time. As a follow-up to its 2019 state Class D championship, Poland roared out 10-0, and handed HP its lone defeat 3-1, during a season where Alexis Bates earned 10 goals and Logan Cookinham got nine goals to lead a deep, potent attack.
Perhaps the biggest game of the field hockey season took place last Friday night. Clinton and Holland Patent, both undefeated, met for the Center State Conference championship, having tied 0-0 when they first met a couple of weeks earlier. This time, though, the Golden Knights rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat the Warriors 3-1 led by Hanna Corrigan’s pair of goals. The other undefeated side, Cicero-North Syracuse, has gone 13 games without a blemish, adding a tough 2-1 win over Baldwinsville plus shutouts of Cortland and East Syracuse Minoa all leading to a season finale Thursday night against Fayetteville-Manlius, who is 7-3-1 and got close to the Northstars in a 2-1 game earlier this season.
The cross country season culminated last Saturday with ridiculously warm weather and a sweep by Fayetteville-Manlius over Cicero-North Syracuse, where in the boys race the Hornets’ Peyton Geehrer easily won and C-NS’s Kate Putman claimed the girls race over F-M’s Hannah Kaercher by less than three seconds. There was also a Liverpool sweep of Baldwinsville. Unfortunately, those four teams, along with West Genesee, were supposed to get together for a Salt City Athletic Conference championship meet at Longbranch Park this Saturday, but it got canceled when Onondaga County went into the COVID-19 yellow zone, affecting many parts of the county where the schools reside.
But there was a post-season championship in cross country that took place last Saturday – in the Center State Conference. After eight teams took part in head-to-head races in the morning, the scores and times were all added up. Sauquoit Valley dominated the boys event with seven of the top 10 finishers, though it was New York Mills’ Victor Lee winning the race in 17:30.6, more than 18 seconds ahead of the field. Clinton’s girls team beat back four challengers, including runner-up West Canada Valley, the Warriors helped by top-five finishes from the duo of Taylor Harvey and Paige Luke, though it was Oriskany’s Paris Welker that claimed the individual race in 20:06 flat, nearly half a minute ahead of Harvey.
Girls tennis matches continued into November, though they did little to change the final standings in the various league. Fayetteville-Manlius again romped through the SCAC Metro division undefeated, like it had done most of the last 35 years as coach Phil Rudolph passed 500 career wins. Clinton was a perfect 8-0 to dominate the Center State Conference. New Hartford engineered a 6-0 record and took advantage of Oneida’s absence to rule the Tri-Valley League, while in the SCAC Empire division Auburn climbed to the top at 10-2 playing twice as much as Jamesville-DeWitt (6-1). Finally, in the OHSL Liberty division, Marcellus and CBA tied for first in the American conference, with Skaneateles 6-0 to lead the National conference.