In a rainy regular season finale for two sectionals-bound squads, the Gananda Blue Panthers defeated the Marion Black Knights, 3-1, on Thursday night at Gananda, as three different Panthers scored in the second half. Taylor Cimino, Caroline White and Giulia Mahoney scored for Gananda, while Emma Lewis scored for Marion. The victory is the second that the Blue Panthers (12-1-3) have had over Marion (10-4-2) this season, having defeated them 1-0 on Sept. 25.
“This game tonight cliches our third-straight league title,” said Betsy George, Gananda's head coach.
“(It's) always a tough game playing Marion, (as) a lot of the girls have friends on the team,” she said, “It's a good camaraderie with them, but at the same time it's a very intense and competitive game.”
The first half was a scoreless draw, as both teams had chances but neither were able to capitalize. However, the score was deceiving, as Gananda was on the attack during the half more than Marion, with the ball usually in Marion's end of the pitch and the Blue Panthers holding a eight-to-three shot advantage.
Perhaps more important to the outcome of the game, however, was how the weather conditions changed during the opening half, as the initially calm skies turned into a downpour about 15 minutes into the match. As the game went on, the ball and the playing field became slippery, water began to pool on the running tracks nearby, and the players' uniforms became splotched with mud. Both coaches agreed that the weather played a role in the game, with George declaring it, “always an equalizer,” while Marion head coach Lori DeLyser said, “The weather was certainly a factor in the game today.”
Despite, or perhaps because of, the wet conditions, the second half saw all of the game's scoring. Although Marion would win the field position battle early, Gananda's Cimino, an eighth grader, would score the first goal of the game 11 minutes in, assisted by junior Kaitlynn White. Two minutes later, Gananda again found the back of the net thanks to freshman Caroline White. The third and final goal for Gananda would come in the 22nd minute of the half, when Mahoney sent it past Marion goalkeeper Sami Bailey on a penalty kick.
Marion would get on the board in the 29th minute when Lewis found the back of the net, but it would turn out to be too little, too late for the Black Knights, as the 3-1 score would end up being final.
Despite the loss, coach DeLyser was positive, saying “I'm proud of my kids, they played tough the whole game.”
“They got down 3-0 and came back, put a goal in, and fought to the end.”
Page 2 of 2 - With both teams heading into sectionals, the next game for both teams remains to be determined, although George thinks they will play the winner of the Williamson-Sodus game and DeLyser expects that her team will face Red Jacket.