CAMDEN – With the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Red Devils controlling the opening 20 minutes of Monday’s Section 3 Class B semifinal field hockey clash, Camden sophomore midfielder Mercedes Currie took it upon herself to get her team going.
Currie reversed the momentum with tremendous stick work late in first half and it continued onto the second half where she assisted on Kennedy Steria’s goal as the Blue Devils earned a trip to the finals with a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
“I try to help our team get the ball into the opponents’ end,” Currie said. “Then try to find open players and create shots for them.”
The goal came with Camden in the final seconds with a player advantage after VVS’ Gracie Winn was sidelined after a roughing call. Currie, who had been maneuvering around defenders and looking for passes most of the game, decided to take a reverse chip from the top of the circle. The shot was struck extremely well and Steria was in perfect position to redirect it past goal keeper Samantha Franklin with 22:56 remaining in the game.
“I dropped my stick at the last second,” Steria said. “I knew it was coming, and it just worked out perfectly and went into the goal.”
Camden head coach Shannon McPheron credited her players for the pretty goal.
“Mercedes definitely will see the field and has a great hard shot and we were ready to capitalize on it,” McPheron said. “Kennedy is a senior and it’s nice to see her get that big goal and make use of Mercedes’ stick work.”
The Blue Devils will play top-seeded Whitesboro (10-4-2) in Sunday’s final at Fayetteville-Manlius. Whitesboro ousted New Hartford 2-0.
“With Whitesboro and New Hartford, we’ve had two great games against both of them,” said McPheron before the second semifinal. New Hartford upset Camden in last year’s sectional final, but now they’ll have to deal with the Warriors.
In the first half, the Red Devils controlled the opening 20 minutes.
McKenna Berry and Kristen Holmes helped VVS control possession early, although the consistent pressure didn’t result in many scoring opportunities as Camden’s defense, led by Gabby Prusack, was able to turn away shots and passes from in close. Prusack had one vital clear midway through the first half on VVS’ best opportunity.
Currie was a huge bright spot in the first half for the Blue Devils, using impressive stick work to create the majority of the Camden’s chances, Currie’s ability to weave around defenders created several chances and led to six penalty corners in the first half.
“I think we weren’t expecting them to come out that intense,” Currie said. “It took us a while to get going and once we settled in we were able to turn it around and get the win.”
Behind Currie, Steria and a tough back line of Prusack, Abby Walker and Delainey Hebble Camden was able to control most of the second half and keep VVS’ scoring chances to a minimum. The Blue Devils had a few shots to extend the lead, but were either wide of the target or stopped by VVS’ tough defense led by Elizabeth Kaido, Bailey Bennati and Jessica Ziarko.
For Red Devils head coach Kevin Zito, it was a game that could’ve went either way.
“We played even throughout,” VVS head coach Kevin Zito said. “They got a nice shot through the center and were able to tip it in. It could’ve easily been us, but it didn’t happen. I thought we played very well and I’m just very proud of my girls.”
Camden 1, VVS 0
VVS (10-6-1): Samantha Franklin 1 save.
Camden (11-6-1): Kennedy Steria 1-0, Mercedes Currie 0-1. Maria Mix 0 saves.
Nick Sardina is a writer for midyorksportsreport.com. Follow Nick onTwitter @nsardinamysr or on Facebook. Contact him via email at