FRANKFORT, NY – There has probably never been a better time to be a Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knight.
All three of their school’s fall sports are in the sectional playoffs, and they all have high seeds, including the girls’ soccer team, which took their first step toward a banner Thursday night at Lieutenant Ferraro Field. It’s certainly brought the entire school together, according to Maroon Knights head coach Alyssa Upson.
“They’re excited for everyone,” Upson said. “Everybody goes and cheers each other.”
That was certainly evident Thursday night, and the Maroon Knights gave their fans (classmates and parents alike) something to cheer about. They came back from an early 1-0 deficit, and behind a stone-wall effort by senior Charlotte Rodio, scored three goals in the second half to advance with a 3-1 victory over Onondaga. Though, according to Rodio, it might not have happened without a little push from Upson.
“Coach told us to get it together [at halftime],” Rodio said. “We just had to keep [the energy] up in the second half. We got it together at the half and just took it from there.”
In the first half, however, it was the Tigers putting the pressure on Rodio early and often. From the opening whistle, the Tigers, led by sophomore midfielder Avi Baker, were on the Maroon Knights’ defense. They pushed the ball tremendously hard, while keeping a stout defense on the other side. That defense allowed Onondaga to pull out an early lead. The Tigers took advantage of a looping corner kick from junior midfielder Lauren Myer, and sophomore defender Macey DeOrdio hammered it into the top left corner and past a diving Rodio for the first goal just a little more than two minutes into the game.
“We just started out slow,” Upson said of the atmosphere on the home side of the field after that goal. “[But] I told them to find the energy. It was cold, and they were all getting used to it.”
When the Knights finally warmed up, the two teams found themselves locked in a tense defensive battle for the remaining 36 minutes of the first half. The best chances for Frankfort-Schuyler came off the foot of senior midfielder Courtney Madia, who looked to add to her impressive 10-goal season. Unfortunately for the senior, her two breakaways – as well as the rest of the Maroon Knights’ offense, who got their opportunities in bunches — in the first half were both smothered by Onondaga freshman goaltender Riley Cox. Luckily for the Knights, Rodio shook off the early goal allowed and kept the hard-charging Tigers at bay for the rest of the half.
The second half was an entirely different matter, however. Once the second-half whistle blew, it was Frankfort-Schuyler pushing the ball down the field and pressuring Cox with lots of shots. As a matter of fact, it would be about seven minutes before Onondaga would push the ball past midfield into the Frankfort-Schuyler end.
“They shifted the field,” Onondaga head coach Lisa Eipp said of the changing tides in the second half. “They wanted the ball in 5’s [senior defender Gianna DeSarro] hands. They just killed us, 5 [DeSarro] and 30 [junior midfielder Hailey Traut].”
Just like in the first half, though, it only took another four minutes before a goal was scored. What was different, though, is that it was the Maroon Knights picking up the goal, and it was Traut tying the game up, as she rolled a ball off of her chest and past Cox to tie the game up at one. They only needed another two minutes to grab the lead, as senior midfielder Courtney Madia took a pass from fellow midfielder Skye Simmons. Madia then chipped the ball into the net to take a quick 2-1 lead after just five minutes of play.
“We basically said we had to step up and win the ball,” Upson said. “Once you win the ball, you have options in front of you.”
On the other side of the field, the Tigers were running out of options, as Rodio and the rest of the Frankfort-Schuyler defense cut off most of the good shots they needed to get back into the game. “We definitely pressured a lot more in the second half,” Rodio said. “We played really good in the second half.”
The Knights got the final goal with only ten minutes gone in the half, after stonewalling Onondaga’s first big chance. Frankfort-Schuyler managed to take that run and put together a run for themselves. They peppered Cox early and often on that run, with Simmons finally managing to put the ball in the net after the freshman goaltender mishandled the ball.
That gave the Maroon Knights a two-goal lead, and from there, they harried the already-exhausted Tigers on both sides of the ball. Onondaga would not roll over and die, however, as the offense, led by Baker, put together several big offensive attacks. Unfortunately, they all were turned away by Rodio and the rest of the Maroon Knights’ defense, led by Skye Simmons’ sister, Sophia. The last gasp from the Tigers came from Baker with just over 22 minutes left to go, as they put together two big shots at the goal to try and get within one goal, but both were parried away by Rodio.
As the Tigers finally ran out of gas, the Maroon Knights took advantage, launching shot after shot at Cox as the clock ran down to zero. After that, Frankfort-Schuyler played keep-away with the ball as they celebrated a big win over the Tigers.
“They came out in the second half and just tore it up,” Eipp said. “They took us out of the game. We stopped going to the ball and they won all the 50-50s. That’s a good team we just lost to…I hope they do well.”
Frankfort-Schuyler’s semi-final opponent on Saturday is just as daunting, however: defending sectional champion Little Falls, who walloped Morrisville-Eaton 10-0 on Thursday night. The last time the two met in the tournament, the Mounties had no trouble shutting out the Maroon Knights, advancing to the semi-final with a 5-0 victory. Upson wasn’t the coach then, but she knows the key to upsetting the Mounties will be with tying up loose ends. Fortunately, her seniors will be there to keep the rest of the team on track. “We have five seniors… [for them], this season is special. Their leadership has been unquestioned; they’re the true leaders,” Upson said. “We just have to fix the small details. They have to be on point [on Saturday].”
“We definitely have to keep the energy high,” Rodio said of the upcoming game.
The good news for the Maroon Knights is that they’ll have two other teams behind them as well.
Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights 3, Onondaga Tigers 1
Section III Class C Quarterfinal
Knights 0 3 3
Tigers 1 0 1
O – Macey DeOrdio (Lauren Myer), 37:54.
F-S – Hailey Traut (unassisted), 37:08
F-S – Courtney Madia (Skye Simmons), 33:17
F-S – Skye Simmons (unassisted), 30:56
Frankfort-Schuyler: Charlotte Rodio 6 saves.
Onondaga: Riley Cox 10 saves
Records: Frankfort-Schuyler 10-6-1, 4-4 CSC Division II; Onondaga 6-9-1, 2-6-1 OHSL Patriot American.