MacArthur girls rally to NYS 'AA' final
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- What can change in 56 seconds?
Emotions: From a team's silence as a season seemed near its end to the jubilation of a season being saved.
Travel plans: From a long, solemn bus ride home to another joyous, celebratory night at a Cortland hotel.
Leads: From a one-goal deficit to a one-goal advantage.
State title hopes: From having very little hope left to being on the verge of playing for the first state championship in program history.
It was 56 seconds that changed the course of history for the MacArthur girls soccer team as it came from behind in thrilling fashion to defeat Brockport, 2-1, in the Class AA state semifinals Saturday at SUNY Cortland.
Trailing 1-0 late in the second half, Meghan Dockweiler sent in a corner kick that Kelly Kempf passed to Katie Gerdes, who headed the ball in with 5:26 remaining to tie the score.
"I knew we had it in us," Gerdes said of the comeback. "It was pure excitement."
The excitement from the tying goal barely ended in time for the go-ahead goal celebration to begin.
Jenny Scro fired a free kick inside the box from about 25 yards out. After a brief scramble, Gerdes fed eighth-grader Arianna Montefusco, who headed the ball in for a 2-1 lead with 4:30 left.
"All the girls put all their effort in and I knew we had it," Montefusco said. "When we scored to make it 1-1, I knew we could get another goal and it happened."
After the biggest 56 seconds in program history, MacArthur was 270 seconds away from the state title game and keeper Jena Cozza made sure it got there. Brockport's Danielle Lehman sent in a perfect looping free kick that required a full-extension, leaping save from Cozza, who punched the ball over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Cozza caught the ball in heavy traffic for her sixth and final save.
"There was no way anything was getting by me at that point," Cozza said. "We had the lead and they worked so hard to get those goals. I couldn't blow it."
The stingy MacArthur defense did a good job of drawing offside calls in the first half before Brockport broke through early in the second half. Taylor Williams sent a through ball to Ally Sharpe, who may have gotten away with being offside and found the back of the net just 32 seconds in.
That lead, however, would later be forgotten in a 56-second span.
MacArthur (17-2) advances to play Arlington in the state championship game at noon Sunday at Cortland. The Generals will look to come home with the school's first girls soccer state championship plaque.
"Every game we've played in the postseason, we've said that today is the biggest game of your life until the next one," MacArthur coach Lauren Gotta said. "Tomorrow will be the biggest game of their lives."