Victoria McKnight scores on a direct kick for Vestal during a 3-2 overtime loss to Valley Stream South in a Class A state semifinal Nov. 10 at TC3.
Andrew Legare, email@example.com | @SGAndrewLegare
Talk about the imperfect time to run into some perfectly bad luck.
Vestal twice gave up goals on shots that deflected off Golden Bears players Saturday in a 3-2 loss to Valley Stream South in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A girls soccer semifinal at Dryden’s Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The second time it happened proved to be the difference, with Lindsey Smith’s shot ending up in the net for the go-ahead goal with 7 minutes, 13 seconds to play in the second 10-minute overtime period.
“We played our hearts out,” Vestal coach Bill Stepanovsky said. “I really thought overall we were the better team, but it didn’t play out that way. We had the lead two times and they found a way. I think two of them were deflections off our own people and they weren’t even dangerous. And they turned out three goals, the last one especially off the head.”
Victoria McKnight closed her brilliant Vestal career with two goals, with each giving the Golden Bears a one-goal advantage.
“It was my senior season, my last game. I’m so proud of my team,” she said. “We fought to the very end. We gave everything we had. Every player on the team left everything they could.
“We had a great season. We made it to states, which was our goal. Obviously (our objective) was to win it, but we came up short. We had some unlucky own-goals and it happens.”
McKnight’s first goal came on a direct kick with 18:56 to play in the first half, sending the Golden Bears to halftime up 1-0.
After a hard shot from Valley Stream South’s Mia Asenjo bounced off a Vestal player and into the net 52 seconds into the second half, McKnight scored again with 23:42 to go in the second half. The second score saw McKnight dribble quickly to create space for herself before unloading a low dart into the left corner of the net. Her twin sister, Olivia, notched the assist.
Section 8 champion Valley Stream South (20-0) came back to tie the game again on a score from Kayla Camacho with 6:19 left in the second half. Stepanovsky said a foul should have been called against the Falcons before that score.
“Unfortunately on their tying goal it was clearly a foul, but referees don’t get them all right,” Stepanovsky said. “They let the play go and, oh well, it resulted for a goal for them. That’s the way the game goes. They had a talented team and we did a great job against their studs. We did what we wanted to do, but unfortunately they got one more goal than us.”
Vestal finished with a 16-1-1 record after getting over the hump this season to advance to the final four.
Up next: The Falcons will play Spencerport or Jamesville-DeWitt in the championship game at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Cortland High School.
Check back later for more on this game.