Solid play means solid win

The Watertown boys soccer team fell to Fowler in a Section 3 Class A semifinal Tuesday in Liverpool. Julia Hopkins/Watertown Daily Times

LIVERPOOL — Watertown’s boys soccer team simply met its match and then some against Fowler on Tuesday night in the Section 3 playoffs.

The highly skillful and top-seeded Falcons scored three goals in each half en route to blanking the fourth-seeded Cyclones, 6-0, in a Class A semifinal at Liverpool High School.

Ararso Mohammed scored three goals to pace Fowler (15-2-1) to a dominating victory.

“It was a rough one,” Watertown senior midfielder Cody Benham said. “Especially since last year we lost to them as well.”

Heading into the game, Watertown knew what to expect against Fowler, which defeated the Cyclones in a sectional quarterfinal, 2-0, a year ago.

Also, several of their players, including Benham, have played with Fowler players in the offseason with a soccer club in Syracuse, which is run by Fowler coach Chris Pelligra.

“I played with those boys since I was about 13 years old when I played for Syracuse Central,” Benham said. “Those boys over there are my brothers, they are exceptionally good players and I hope they win states and go far.”

The Cyclones, who finish at 14-3-1, just didn’t anticipate such a rough start against the Falcons, who are ranked No. 12 in the state in Class A.

Watertown allowed two goals within the first seven minutes and eight seconds of the game, with the first an own goal only five minutes and 25 seconds in.

A Fowler player curled in a crossing pass that caromed off a Watertown player and into the Cyclones’ net.

“We were ready to go, we were ready to play hard and we had a great practice the day before,” Watertown coach Todd Heckman said. “But I think it just was jitters and it cost us that first goal. We had a great opportunity a couple minutes before to score and we missed the net.”

The goal and the nature of the tally proved to be too much to overcome for Watertown.

“It was just super unlucky and then it brought their momentum up, which led to all the rest of their goals,” Benham said. “I personally think, if we would have had that, we could have stayed in the game a lot longer than we did.”

“I mean, stuff like that happens,” Watertown senior defender Simon Stratton said. “But I think our team morale just went down after that.”

Fowler responded with another goal only 1:33 later to lead 2-0 on an unassisted tally from Ridwan Sirad in the eighth minute.

“There were a couple missed opportunities in the beginning and Fowler just really fed off of it,” Heckman said. “They gained more confidence and played very well.”

The talented and disciplined Falcons continued to dictate the play and built a 3-0 advantage on Mohammed’s goal with 14:05 remaining in the first half.

The Cyclones had their opportunities later in the half, but a pair of Watertown corner kicks were booted out of Fowler’s end zone and out of harm’s way.

Watertown also had a shot on goal early in the second half, which was saved by goalie Kyaw Pong.

Fowler added to its lead as Mohammed and Crishaun McKenzie each scored in the 51st and 61st minutes, respectively.

“We have a nice balance and we try to keep a nice balance,” Pelligra said. “The seniors are important and we have good leadership here.”

Mohammed later added a goal in the 70th minute for the Falcons, who advance to the final to face Jamesville-DeWitt, which rallied to knock off Whitesboro in the earlier semifinal in overtime.

“They have a lot of good players,” Stratton said of Fowler. “We played them last year and they have a lot of the same returning players, so they’re tough. And when you give up goals like that, that’s what happens.”

The Cyclones, who won both the Frontier League’s “A” Division regular season and playoff titles, blanked Central Square, 1-0, last Thursday, in a Class A quarterfinal at Watertown.

“They’re always good,” Pelligra said of Watertown. “Seven of them, believe it or not, play with us with our club team and train with us, some of them since they were little kids. They’re good players and it was nice seeing them.”

Watertown reached a Class A semifinal for the second time in three years, including in 2017 when it went on to win the Section 3 crown and advanced to state regional play.

“It’s disappointing to go out like this, but I’m very proud of the boys and the way they represented Watertown High School,” Heckman added.



Kade Ozog scored twice, including a goal six minutes and seven seconds into overtime as the third-seeded Tornadoes edged the seventh-seeded Indians in a Section 3 Class D semifinal at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.

Goalkeeper Connor Broadbent made 10 saves for Poland (16-3), which advances to next Tuesday’s final against ninth-seeded Fabius-Pompey at the same venue.

Graham Rowland scored a goal in the 48th minute, with Jake Bombard assisting, to provide Lyme (13-5-1) with a 1-0 lead.

But Ozog tied the game in the next minute for the Tornadoes, who are ranked No. 4 in the state in Class D.

Goalie Kyle Gaumes finished with 11 saves for the Indians, who finished ranked No. 19 in the state in Class D.

Lyme advanced to the semifinals by getting past Frontier League foe Belleville Henderson on penalty kicks after both teams were tied 2-2 through overtime in a quarterfinal last Friday.

“Both teams had their chances to finish,” Lyme coach Rob Goutremout said. “This game could have gone either way and we matched up very well against them.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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