MASSENA - The Tupper Lake girls soccer team advanced to the Section X, Class C championship game for the second straight year with a 2-1 win over Brushton-Moira on Thursday at Massena High School.
The fourth-seeded Lumberjacks will face top-seeded Canton at 4:30 p.m. Saturday after the Golden Bears beat fifth-seeded Norwood-Norfolk, 2-0, Thursday. The Lumberjacks and Golden Bears split two games during the regular season.
Kendra Mills scored Brushton's only goal in the first half on a kick during that snuck by Lumberjacks goalie Brooke Dewyea after she appeared to slip on the wet turf. Dewyea, who played well in goal, had six saves in the game.
Tupper Lake’s Katie Stuart, left, battles for the ball with Brushton-Moira’s Kendra Mills during Thursday’s Section X, Class C game in Massena. Tupper Lake won 2-1 to advance to the finals Saturday against Canton.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Down 1-0, the Lumberjacks came alive in the second half after a sluggish first half against the third-seeded Panthers. The Lumberjacks consistently put pressure on the Panthers and controlled the ball for most of the final 30 minutes in a game that was played in a cold, driving rain.
Katie Stuart got the Lumberjacks on the board with 17 minutes and 43 seconds left in the game. Her kick from deep on the right side of the field nailed the far goal-post, then bounced into net to knot the game at 1-1.
"Maddy Kelly had a through-ball to me and then I put it far post, hoping it would either go in, or the other wing (would) tap it in," Stuart said, describing her kick.
Although the game was tied at that point, it appeared the Lumberjacks had momentum and were in control of the game. It seemed a matter of time before they scored again. That finally happened with 9:30 left in the game when Lauren Bouck found the back of the net on a deep kick outside the box in the center of the field. That goal gave her team a 2-0 lead.
"The second half, actually about 10 minutes into the second half, the team that we've been looking for appeared," Lumberjack coach Russ Bartlett said. "That's what we're capable of doing every time out."
Tupper Lake improved to 9-7 on the season with the win. Brushton-Moira fell to 12-5. The Panthers had been 8-1 in the Section X's North Division, which includes most of the Class C schools other than Canton. Their only league loss during the regular came against the Lumberjacks, who split two games with them.
Tupper Lake also beat Brushton-Moira 2-1 in last year's Section X's, Class C game. That game was much closer than this one and was decided in a penalty-kick session after four overtimes.
The Lumberjacks eventually went on to reach the state quarterfinal game last season. Bartlett said that experience probably helped his team Thursday.
"I think some of the people that were here were maybe role players last year are now stepping up and making a much bigger impact," Bartlett said.
Still, coming into the game, the players may have been a bit on edge. It took them about a half to really find their game.
"I think we were a little nervous coming in, seeing as we just played them before and we lost 2-0," Stuart said, referring to a late-season game with the Panthers. "We had to figure out our game. ... It took a little longer than expected, but then it was our game."
Bartlett said that on Saturday his team will likely have to avoid another slow start.
"Getting a much quicker start than what we've been getting (will be key)," he said. "I think we're seeing some people step up. There's an old saying, there's no such thing as a rookie in the playoffs. Some people are stepping up."