BOYS SOCCER: FORKS RIDES HOT START TO 6-1 WIN OVER SV IN CLASS B FINAL
By ROB CENTORANI
Broome County East Sports Report
ONEONTA -- Chenango Forks hung a three-spot on the scoreboard before Saturday's Section 4 Class B boys soccer final was eight minutes old.
Senior standout Keegan Watson had two of those goals and from that point forward, hoisting the sectional plaque became a mere formality.
Nate Raab also had two goals for the top-seeded Blue Devils, a 6-1 winner over No. 6 Susquehanna Valley on a gorgeous afternoon at the Wright National Soccer Campus.
It marked Forks' first sectional title since a 2-0 victory over the Sabers in the 2015 Class B final.
"Going into games, our mentality is early and often," said Watson, whose team also jumped on Lansing early in a 6-1 Class B semifinal win Tuesday. "We don't want to give them a chance. We put up three in a span of eight minutes and it really just took them out of the game."
Next for the Blue Devils (14-3) is a state quarterfinal against the Section 3 champion. It will be played at a Section 4 site, likely on Saturday. Marcellus and Skaneateles will square off for the Section 3 title at 7 p.m. Monday at Phoenix High.
Watson scored on a short shot from the left side 1 minute, 3 seconds into play after a failed clearing attempt by the Sabers, who fell into a 2-0 deficit 4:21 in on an own goal.
With 32:05 left in the first half, Watson ran onto a long crossing pass from Zephan Tompkins at the top of the box, took a touch right and scored on a low shot to the middle of the goal.
"Once you get down like that, they're high school kids, they start getting down on each other, spirits starting getting broken and mentally, that's where the kids start breaking," said SV coach Jay Vimislik, whose team closes the season at 9-9.
The soccer gods then tortured SV midway through half. With the score still, 3-0, SV's Nasser Al-Khalidi had possession at the top of the box, turned left and sent a laser toward goal. It smashed off the left post and soon after, Forks headed in the other direction.
At the other end, Alex McMullen ran onto a long, bouncing ball from Nazar Kovalchuk on the left side of the box and kneed one inside the far post for a 4-0 cushion 18:26 before halftime.
"Those kinds of moments in the game, it kind of shows our experience and maturity," said Forks coach Jarod McMullen, whose team dropped a 4-3 decision to SV earlier in the season. "One end of the field we almost give up a goal, but then to be able to turn them around and put them under pressure. We have multiple weapons on this team, good chemistry right now and we're going to ride this wave as long as we can."
A minute later, Forks goalie Nolan Sirgany made a diving stop on a direct kick from Dylan Root toward the right post before Raab made it 5-0. Watson sent a throughball to Raab at the top of the box, touched it right before ripping a shot to the center of the goal with 6:48 left in the half.
Raab connected for another goal, a 22-yarder inside the right post with 22:50 to play.
Root capped the scoring for the Sabers, pouncing on a loose ball in the box before scoring to the far post with 16:44 to play, his 23rd goal of the season and last in an SV uniform.
"It kind of all came together midway through the season and we got some big wins," Vimislik said of Sabers squad that won the Southern Tier Athletic Conference Central Division title before knocking off third-seeded Dryden, 5-2, in a quarterfinal and No. 2 seed Chenango Valley, 2-0, in a semifinal Tuesday. "This team is pretty young. We're graduating five kids, three starters."
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