By CHRIS BROOKS
It has been highly lauded by many sports fans as one of the best times of the year. The Fall season — there honestly isn’t anything quite like it. Especially this year.
On the professional level: The return of football, hockey and basketball, playoff baseball is now in full swing and in one month from now, the World Cup will be getting underway overseas, in Qatar.
A divine, and impeccable slate to deliver some sports euphoria, isn’t it? But as we minimize more locally in our neck of the woods in our Allegany County as far as competition is concerned, you can add a little bit more to that global equation to sweeten the sports pot, if you will.
Tuesday night was as chilly and misty of a Fall night as you could expect for the hunt for playoff glory to begin. After spending the last month plus on writing down goals, battling and garnering for position, marking their territory across Section V and preparing for what lies ahead in the autumn epilogue, it was “win or go home” season.
Ah yes, Sectionals have returned.
With three additional soccer games seeing the Wellsville, Bolivar-Richburg and Cuba-Rushford girls beginning their second season travels around the area, the journey for the boys soccer side would begin at the Rich Sullivan Complex in Belfast where No. 7 Genesee Valley/Belfast went to battle with No. 10 Avoca/Prattsburgh for the second and final time this year.
Back at the very beginning of the month, on Homecoming for the United squad, it was one of those games where they would have to try and ward off their opposition. Although the scoring chances mounted up in a hurry, Genesee Valley/Belfast was able to do that behind Evan Turybury’s guidance in their 2-1 victory over the Titans.
18 days later, a bit of a different story.
While Genesee Valley/Belfast was able to find the back of the net first again against the Titans, they made sure this time around that Avoca/Prattsburgh would not reach the board.
With an early penalty called against the Titans in the first half, it was an opportunity that the hosts in black and white would not allow to slip by, as they broke the ice tremendously with a crucial penalty kick to take the lead. When the second half came around, they looked to Evan Turybury one more time to lock it down with a massive piece of insurance to ensure their lead, as they went on to knock off Avoca/Prattsburgh with a 2-0 shutout to move onto the Class D1 Quarterfinal round.
“We played sound defense all night tonight. The defense has been playing solid for most of this year, and it all came down to it being a matter of scoring the goals and buckling down right now,” said GV/Belfast coach Mark Sullivan. “It was a great combined win from everyone out there. They were excited to give this team their first win together as one since the merger. We took that next step forward in Sectionals after being knocked out of the first round last year.”
It would begin to unfold for Genesee Valley/Belfast (7-6-4) through some early battling with Avoca/Prattsburgh across the midfield. Battling that would see an intensification of competitive physicality as time went on. It would also lead towards the game’s first gigantic chance to break the ice just past half way after a Titans penalty inside their own box set up a free kick to be taken by the hosts.
With Justin Hill electing to take the chance, it would not go to waste, striking it towards the far right post past Chris Ruest and in for the early 1-0 lead.
It would hold through into the second half where a massive piece of insurance was accounted for by Evan Turybury, as he jarred the ball free in the middle of a scrum in front of the Avoca/Prattsburgh net, prying it free with his back heel and then fired it home moments later for the huge extension that they would comfortably hold until the horn ended the battle, clinching a spot in Friday’s Quarterfinals.
The two goals were a part of a nine-shot display by the Genesee Valley/Belfast offense, while the defense in turn held Avoca/Prattsburgh to just four. Thai Norasethaporn would make all four stops to pick up the Sectional-starting shutout in goal.
Chris Ruest made seven saves for the Titans on the other end. The season is over for the visiting No. 10 seeds, as they wrap up the 2022 campaign with a record of 5-12 overall.
For Avoca/Prattsburgh, Haden Abbott was named a first-team Steuben County all-star while Josiah Stilson and Macoy Putnam made second team. Abbott, Stilson and Evan Campbell will represent A/P in the Steuben County Exceptional Seniors Soccer Game on Nov. 7 in Fillmore at 7 p.m.
Photo gallery by Chris Brooks