Lady Wolves edged by Eldred in regionals

MIDDLETOWN – The Eldred Yellowjackets played in a defensive posture for most of the second half and waited for the opportunity to sting.

It came with 17 seconds and it took a twisted knee to get them over the top.

Eldred’s Jordan Lepes went one-on-one with Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville goalkeeper Leann Clark, who crumpled to the ground as the ball rolled under her and into the goal, giving Section IX champion Eldred a 2-1 victory in Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D quarterfinal game at Faller Field.

Clark came out of the game and immediately had ice on her knee.

“This is a very tough way to end the season,” Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville coach Zale Benton said. “There wasn’t much to say. They gave it everything they had, and apparently, it was just not meant to be.”

The Lady Wolves (15-4-1) took control of the momentum early when Jessi Hagadorn scored about five minutes into the game, giving OESJ a 1-0 lead, and the Lady Wolves kept up the attack all game.

“We kept pounding and we kept pounding,” Benton said. “Their goalkeeper [Jenna Burns] played outstanding. She covered everything up. We just couldn’t finish it. We were right in front of the goal. We made her move all over the place, and we just couldn’t get the ball in the net.”

Eldred tied the game late in the first half on a goal by Lynzee Kelly, who shot the ball from the left side of the field and tucked a shot over Clark and inside the far post to tie the game.

“I think we outshot them 38-2,” Benton said.

Fate seemed to intervene on the side of the Lady Yellowjackets (11-7-1) in the second half, starting after they committed a handball in the 18-yard box in the 51st minute.

Tabea Salzmann lined up for a penalty kick and shanked a line drive wide to the right and she collapsed to her knees in disbelief as Eldred celebrated their escape.

The Lady Wolves had another chance to tie the game in the 65th minute when the ball got behind Burns and slowly rolled toward the goal. Eldred’s Addy Bednarak knocked the ball away just before it crossed the goalline. Five minutes before, Salzmann had another shot go wide to the right.

“We attacked from every single side,” Benton said. “We were in front of them, behind them, off to the side and they literally had two shots on goal.”

But their two shots were enough to get them two goals, the victory and a trip to the State University of New York at Cortland, where the Yellowjackets will face Section III champion Poland, who defeated Section IV champion Milford, 4-0, Saturday, on Nov. 16.

For the Lady Wolves, it was the first loss since suffering a 5-0 defeat to Catholic Central on Sept. 24. Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville had won 10 straight games entering Saturday afternoon’s play.

“They did everything I asked of them,” Benton said. “We had a phenomenal season. It just wasn’t meant to be because I don’t understand how you can shoot that many times and it’s not like we shot at her every time. We made that girl move. We shot high and low and the ground, we just didn’t finish it.”