HORNELL — The No. 3 Hornell Red Raiders won a wet and wild game against No. 6 Dansville by a 1-0 final Saturday evening in Maple City Park.
Chase Freeland scored the lone goal of the game as Hornell held off a late comeback attempt from the Mustangs in order to move into the Section V Class B1 semifinals.
The wind and the rain made for a sloppy opening few minutes for both teams. The wet conditions on turf meant the ball would skip on the bounce, and that resulted in both Hornell and Dansville having deep passes fly pass their intended targets and out of bounds.
But as both teams adjusted to the climate, the shots came at a higher frequency and with greater threat. After 20 minutes of play, it was the Dansville Mustangs who had controlled the pace of play. Dansville used its speed advantage on the edge to move balls down the sidelines and in for a cross. The Mustangs got a few great chances, but the Red Raider defense was strong in front of Tanner Stutzman, who cleaned up anything that came through.
“In all of Section V, I can’t imagine you are going to find a team that good that would ever be a No. 6 seed, but that’s just how good the league was this year,” said HHS coach Jim Tobin. “This was an intense game, and normally in a first round sectional game you aren’t facing a team that looks like Dansville.”
As the game progressed, Hornell slowly started to get its own offensive chances. And in the 21st minute of play, a penalty called just outside of the box led to the Red Raiders first goal.
On the free kick, Freeland lined up a shot and fired a low ball towards the net. That hit the legs of the Dansville wall 10 yards away, and bounced directly back towards Freeland. The junior quickly recovered his step and fired another low shot, this time finding a hole that led all the way to the back of the net.
“I’d take Chase over anybody in the league. Just being a junior, he’s just going to keep getting better and better because of his work ethic. He’s never going to be the kid who sits back and says, ‘I’ve accomplished everything.’” said Tobin. “He listens, he’s a great leader and he’s going to be a ball to watch over the rest of this season and then over the offseason as well.”
With a 1-0 lead in hand and tough weather conditions to deal with, the Red Raiders focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball and looked to advance only in an ideal situation. As a result, the score stayed at 1-0 all the way until the halftime intermission.
After the break, the Red Raiders abandoned the defensive strategy in favor of attempting to get the two-goal lead. Hornell put a barrage of shots on net over the first 20 minutes of the half, but Dansville’s Nick Camuto made several great saves in order to keep the deficit at one.
Unfortunately for Camuto and the rest of the Mustangs, with Hornell dominating the time of possession, Dansville was not able to mount much of a comeback attempt.
But with just around 20 minutes to play, the Mustangs nearly tied things up on a great chance. Andrew Vogler showed off his footwork and moved past a Hornell defender before finding Sven Barth. Barth took a touch before firing a hard shot that beat everybody, but bounced off of the left post and out of play.
As the second ticked away, Dansville’s attack gradually became more aggressive. With about 12 minutes left in the game, the Mustangs started to push every player forward, and it generated a few more shots on goal.
But Dansville’s aggressive offense was met by Hornell’s aggressive defense, and the Red Raiders continually turned away chances and kept Dansville’s possessions very short.
“The last four or five games, we’ve had Noah Fuller mark the other team’s best player, and he is as tough as they come. Andrew Vogler is an amazing soccer player, and Noah just tried to be a pain in his side. And he did a good job,” said Tobin. “We played them before and didn’t pay Vogler much attention, and we obviously didn’t come out with a good result. But the kids in front were great again, and I think this makes four or five shutouts in a row for Tanner Stutzman.”
Because of that, the scored stayed at 1-0 all the way through to the final buzzer, allowing Hornell (9-5-3) to advance into the Section V Class B1 semifinals, where it will meet either No. 7 Greece Olympia or No. 2 Pal-Mac.
That game is scheduled for Wednesday evening with a time and place yet to be determined.