CORTLAND — The Central Square girls soccer team left the SUNY Cortland campus last Friday night without its coveted Section 3 Class A championship after a heart-wrenching loss to rival Jamesville-DeWitt, but having undoubtedly established a new benchmark for the program.
The top-seeded Redhawks suffered a 3-0 setback to the No. 2 Red Rams in the team’s first-ever sectional finals appearance last Friday night. Central Square completed its banner season with a 16-2-1 overall record, setting a new team record for wins while making the deepest postseason run in program history.
Central Square girls soccer had never previously advanced past the quarterfinal round of a sectional playoff tournament during its 48-year existence prior to this season’s breakthrough.
“I think just the mindset that our team kept this whole entire year,” said junior Emma Herrmann, who was named Central Square’s Most Valuable Player by Section 3 officials after the game. “We were winning consistently and we were focused on making it to the sectional final, and we did that. I think that is just special for us, Central Square hasn’t been known as a soccer school and now I think we’ve made a name for ourselves this year and we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with next year.”
Jamesville-DeWitt (17-2) scored in the fourth minute of the Class A final and maintained the lead throughout to win its 11th straight sectional crown. Central Square freshman goalie Samantha Haley made 13 saves, including several big stops to hold the J-D lead at 2-0 at halftime.
“I think J-D just wanted it more than us,” Herrmann said. “Credit to them, they’re a great team, it definitely wasn’t our ‘A-game,’ but regardless of that I’m very proud of what this team has accomplished. This team basically re-wrote history in Central Square girls soccer so to make it here was an accomplishment in itself.”
The Redhawks had reached the final after claiming a 4-0 victory over Syracuse-Christian Brothers Academy and a 3-0 win over Cortland in the semifinals.
The Class A final served as the highly-anticipated rubber match between Central Square and Jamesville-DeWitt after the budding rivals split their two regular-season matchups, including a 3-2 overtime victory for the Redhawks in the most recent outing on Sept. 24.
“J-D played amazing,” Central Square junior Cora Keohane said. “They were winning balls in the air, keeping possession, they did that really well. They wanted it and so did we, but it wasn’t our day. I’m proud of this team, we have come so far and gotten so close, and we’re going to start thinking about next year.”
She added: “At the start of the season we had goals to win a sectional game and then when we got to sectionals we re-evaluated and wanted to make it to the sectional final and we did that. We just kept pushing ourselves and pushing toward our goals.”
Central Square will lose five seniors to graduation, including one of its most productive playmakers, Allyson Isereau, a four-year varsity standout who finished with four goals and nine assists in her final season. Her twin sister, Kaylie Isereau, has missed each of the last two seasons with ACL injuries to each knee, but is another veteran presence who will be missed next season.
The Redhawks expect to have each of their two leading scorers, Herrmann (29 goals-4 assists) and Keohane (16-13) back for their senior campaigns next year along with several young standouts.
Haley will be looking to follow up on a breakout freshman season in which she registered 130 saves, while sophomore Ashley Concolino (10 goals-9 assists) and sophomore twins Ella and Evelyn Dolce should also return to the promising young lineup. Eighth-grader Ryan Colton, who tallied six goals, 12 assists, and was announced as the team’s sportsmanship representative by Section 3 officials after the loss to J-D, is another expected returning standout.
Redhawks coach Angelo Carroccio, who has led the Redhawks to the first consecutive double-digit win totals in team history during his two seasons at the helm, shared his pride with the players for their season accomplishments in the postgame huddle.
“They worked hard all year,” Carroccio said. “It just wasn’t our night and sometimes that happens, and I just wanted them to know that that’s OK. You want to win every game you play obviously, but (J-D) was just the better team. They’re a great team, we worked hard all season and you see the girls crying because they care, they want to win, and that’s kind of a big change for us. They got the community and the school behind us. Every girl on this team wanted to win and we’re going to try to do that next year.”