November 18, 2012
On this sun-kissed November Sunday, it was left to Tara Seigle to save things for Section III.
Already, it had proven brutal. Skaneateles, trying to get the state Class B girls volleyball championship in the morning at Glens Falls Civic Center, got a tutorial in championship play from John Glenn, who repeated its 2011 title in a three-set match that was over in a hurry.
Baldwinsville, also in search of the big prize in Class AA girls volleyball (possibly a second title in three years), started well against Rochester Mercy, but could not sustain it, dropping each of the next three sets after grabbing the opener. Again, a Section V team had tripped up the undefeated Bees at the end, just as Webster Schroeder did 12 months ago.
At Bragman Stadium, Liverpool was in its first-ever field hockey state Class A final. But it was also weary from the long overtime/penalty strokes marathon required to get past Niskayuna, and defending champ Sachem East proved way too good, winning 3-0 to complete a perfect 22-0 campaign.
And at SUNY-Cortland, Jamesville-DeWitt's girls soccer side, also in a state final for the first time, was tough and resilient in its Class A state final. Unfortunately, the Red Rams were trying to topple a dynasty in South Side, and the Long Island megapower pulled out a 2-0 win to claim state championship no. 17. That's right, 17. Simply mind-boggling.
Back to Seigle. She was playing for Poland's girls soccer team in a riveting Class D state final against undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Chateaugay. Despite goals from Siegle and super frosh Mikayla Blumenstock, the Tornadoes saw a 2-1 lead late in regulation disappear when Brianna Cook scored with 1:50 left to pull the Bulldogs even.
One overtime passed. In the second OT, Poland, now with an 11-on-10 advantage due to red cards, had Seigle positioned 30 yards away from the net. So she fired, and the ball floated in the air for what seemed like days, at least to the Tornado faithful.
And then the ball settled inside the top left corner of the net. Poland 3, Chateaugay 2, and that's where it would stay, the Tornadoes joining F-M's perennial cross country powerhouse as the only Section III teams that would bring home state championships.
For others, it was a matter of coming just short, as CBA's Summer Schmitt and Liverpool's Madeline Murphy did with top-five efforts during the state girls swim meet at Ithaca College. Other high finishes, like Alec Peinkofer's fourth-place effort during the State Federation cross country meet, served as an unexpected surprise.
Trust me, though, no one was happier than Seigle and her Poland teammates as they got the police and fire escort back into their little town in Herkimer County. To finish on top, to be remembered for a lifetime - it's what they all practice and play for. Few ever get there.
Those that did included Poland, South Side, Washingtonville (Class AA), Greece Odyssey (Class B) and Hoosick Falls (Class C) in girls soccer, Sachem East, Lakeland (Class B) and Greene (Class C) in field hockey and, in boys soccer, Arlington (Class AA), Jericho (Class A), Livonia and Ichabod Crane (Class B), Port Jefferson (Class C) and Chazy (Class D), all of whom are proud state champions tonight. Congratulations to them all.