By Perry L. Novak
HERKIMER – Lansing’s boys soccer team ended Sauquoit Valley’s dream season Saturday afternoon 1-0. The Section IV champs dominated play throughout the Class C quarterfinal match but could not score until the 69th minute. Langston Hopkins, one of the few juniors to start for the senior-laden Bobcats, scored from close range then the visitors’ defense did the rest to secure another trip to the state semifinals.
“We played as well as we normally do,” SV’s first-year head coach Tyler Denton said. “They have 11 seniors and we had three. At times I think we were outmatched.”
Indeed. Lansing (18-2) outshot the Section III champs 24-2, had an 8-2 edge in corner kicks and keeper Jack Yahn needed to make just two saves to Josh Ward’s 10 for Sauquoit Valley (15-4-1). Still, the scrappy Section III champs made the Bobcats sweat it out to the end.
“We worked hard all season” SV’s Kevin Griffith said after the last game of his high school career.
And Denton’s team worked hard from the start, though mostly on defense. Lansing had better possession to start and earned a corner kick just 30 seconds in. The Bobcats played a quick ball and Nick Parkes had a good chance to score. The senior – one of seven starters for Lansing – was just wide from 15 yards. Minutes later Taylor Overton had a header that forced Ward to make one of his 10 saves.
Lansing kept up the pressure in the 10th minute as Overton was just high with a shot from close in. SV responded well this time by earning a corner kick two minutes later. Lansing’s defense cleared the well-placed ball, though, and the offense regained the momentum quickly.
The next best chance for coach Benji Parkes’ team came in the 19th minute. A Sauquoit Valley misplay left the ball loose with the goal open. Jacob Worden cleared the ball at the last moment to keep it scoreless for the home team.
Lansing had an even better chance in the 24th minute when Hopkins had a breakaway on the wing. Ward challenged perfectly and forced the shot just wide to keep the game 0-0.
Lansing forced Ward to make three saves in the opening minutes of the second half to help keep momentum. The first was on a shot from a tough angle by Hopkins. Overton had the next two chances in succession only to see SV’s sophomore goalie make the plays.
Mason Edwards had Lansing’s next best chance in the 54th minute, but his shot was wide. Griffith then had the game’s next best chance. The SV co-captain made Yahn make a diving save in the 63rd minute.
“We wanted to win,” Griffith said of his team’s continuous hustle. “We did everything we could.”
SV kept playing great defense, but a greater cross from the right side to Hopkins in the 69th minute led to the game-winner. It slipped perfectly between two defenders who covered Hopkins closely. The junior forward fired it in from 10 yards. Ward had no chance on the shot.
SV had just one good chance in the last 11 minutes, but a deep throw-in went just too long and Lansing’s steady defense ensured victory.
“It hurts, and there’s pride,” Griffith said afterward. “It was a great season. That’s all that matters.”
Great it was as SV won just four games last year. But Saturday was Lansing was a bit better.
New York State Class C Quarterfinal
Lansing 1, Sauquoit Valley 0
Lansing (18-2): Langston Hopkins 1-0. Saves – Jack Yahn 2.
Sauquoit Valley (15-4-1): Saves – Josh Ward 10.
Shots: Lansing 24-2.
Corner Kicks: Lansing 8-2.