Hornell chips away for Senior Night win over Dansville

By Sean Curran
The Spectator
Hornell's Noah Jenkins (4) battles for position against visiting Dansville Thursday night.

HORNELL — Hornell scored a pair of second-half goals in a rainy affair on Thursday night in order to grab a 2-0 win over the Dansville Mustangs at Maple City Park during what was officially the Red Raiders senior night.

“We had Gavin McGowan and Avery Browne start tonight for us. They are just great kids that keep working hard. They come to practice every single day and work their tails off. Chris Sexsmith in the back is always solid, and Kade Slayton played a really good game for us as well tonight,” said HHS coach Jim Tobin. “Jonas is our captain, and he set the tone. He picked us all up and gave us a huge boost in the second half.”

The Red Raiders were in control on both ends of the field for much of the night, but had trouble converting their scoring chances into goals against a tough Mustang defensive performance. Hornell kept at it, however, and eventually got a pair of goals in the second half to secure a senior night victory for 2020.

“Dansville played hard tonight, and they play a very tough brand of soccer. I thought offensively, some of our guys were a little lethargic up top, they didn’t quite have the energy that we needed out of them there,” said Tobin. “But the first ten minutes of the second half we set the tone. It was one of those nights where we took a lot of shots, but they might not all have been very high quality shots, so we need to work on shooting a little bit more.”

As the minutes ticked off of the clock, the rain slowly started to come down harder and harder until the two teams found themselves in a downpour. The rain made the turf slick, and the pace gradually picked up because of how much faster the ball began to move on the ground.

This benefited Hornell, who started to generate some great chances late in the first half. The Red Raiders nearly put points on the board several times, but the shots either trickled wide, or were stopped thanks to a strong performance from Aiden O’Connor in net for Dansville.

As a result, the game stayed at a scoreless tie for the first 40 minutes. During the intermission, the rain slowed down just a bit, and it led to a slower pace in the second half.

Hornell still held a significant advantage as they dominated the time of possession to open the frame. But once again, the HHS chances that came about turned into near misses as O’Connor continued to make some great saves that preserved the shutout well into the second half.

But eventually, Hornell was bound to find the back of the net, and the Red Raiders finally broke through on the scoreboard in the 57th minute of play. Ian Ashworth, who was one of the main catalysts for generating chances all night long, continued to put forth a great effort as he danced around three or four defenders on the right edge of the box.

Ashworth found a tiny bit of space and dropped a pass back a few yards to the foot of Jonas Sciotti. Sciotti then hit a one-timer with his right foot that bent hard to the left and slipped right past the keeper and into the back of the net, giving HHS the 1-0 advantage halfway through the second half.

The Red Raiders continued to control the pace of play and generate the majority of the scoring chances, but in the final five minutes, Dansville dialed up their offensive intensity in an effort to tie the game.

The Mustangs nearly scored with four minutes left to play on a perfect cross, but Gates Miller stopped the ball dead in its tracks before the cross could make it in front of the goal.

The Red Raiders then put the finishing touches on the win a minute later, when Liam Khork put one in the back of the net. Khork carried the ball inside the right edge of the box, and then fired a tough-angled shot just inside of the right post in order to seal the 2-0 win for Hornell.

Hornell’s defense allowed very few chances all night long, and anything that got anywhere close to the net was immediately picked up by Miller in a great shutout performance.

The Red Raiders improve to 2-1 on the season before a game with Livonia on Saturday afternoon. Hornell’s next game is on Monday afternoon with a trip to Bath to play the Haverling Rams at 6:30 p.m.

Hornell's Liam Khork (7) heads the ball away from Dansville's Caeleb Kendall (16) Thursday night.