BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
GROTON - Newark Valley displayed some impressive defense in Wednesday's Section IV Class C semifinal against Groton. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, so did the top-seeded Indians, who scored the game's only goal in the 34th minute to pull out a 1-0 victory.
Maggie Ossit put away a rebound with 6:04 remaining in the game to give Groton its 10th shutout of the season and 17th win without a loss.
The winning shot was set up when the Indians were able to get the ball behind a pair of defenders and senior Lauren Reeves had no one but NV sophomore goalkeeper Emma Graves. Graves was able to dive and deflect the ball away. However, the rebound went toward Ossit, who collected the ball and put it into the left corner of the net.
"She did a nice job of getting low and making that initial save when she needed to," said NV head coach Chuck Schneider of his sophomore keeper's effort. "It's just unfortunate they had another red player right there to put it away after she saved it."
Graves would make two more saves in the final five minutes while her teammates worked diligently to find an opportunity at the other end of the field. It didn't happen.
"It was very tough for them. They worked so hard," Schneider said. "They were in every single game the entire season. Even tonight, at any moment we could've found the back of the net. We had some chances."
There was a lot of back-and-forth battling through the first half, each team meeting some looks at the other's goal, but with only a few opportunities to find the back of the net. Each defense was up to the task and Graves and her counterpart, Emma Dematteo, also a sophomore, weren't about to let anyone in their goals.
Finally, in the final minute of the first half, Ossit somehow got the ball past a challenge from Graves for what looked like an opportunity, but she encountered NV sophomores Makenna Nechwedowich and Maris Aylesworth. Nechwedowich cleared the ball away from Ossit and Aylesworth chased it down and moved it out of danger.
The Cardinals had a couple of corner kick opportunities just miss in the first half as Leah Williams headed a corner over the crossbar and NV had another hit the top of the crossbar and bounce to the far side and out of bounds for a goal kick.
Graves came up with three big saves in the first 15 minutes of the second half, first deflecting a ball over the cross bar, then made back-to-back diving saves to keep the scoreless deadlock alive
"She had a really great game," Schneider. "She made some crazy saves there."
Had a couple of breaks gone Newark Valley's way, the Cardinals might still be playing this weekend.
"I thought it was a pretty even game," Schneider said. "We both had our moments with working the ball around a little bit. I thought in the second half they kind of out-moved us a little bit."
Groton took 10 shots to NV's nine and held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Graves made nine saves, Dematteo had four.
With wins over Waverly and Notre Dame, a rout against Walton, and their effort in this game highlighting a strong end to the season, the Cardinals have taken a step in the right direction for a shot at a sectional title next season.
IN PHOTO 1: Newark Valley's Victoria Mellem. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR
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