POTSDAM — While the lineups have changed since Potsdam and Ogdensburg began their North Country Men’s Summer Soccer rivaly two decades ago, the intensity remained the same in the championship game of the 2014 Division I playoffs on Sunday.
“We have the talent and experience of our older guys and a lot of energy from our younger guys. We put those things together and had another good year,” noted Grant Sharlow after CJ’s-Chip’s Place successfully defended its tournament title by turning back Pepsi-The Place 2-1.
Sunday’s game at the SUNY Potsdam turf field marked the 10th time that the two rivals have squared off against each other for the league’s playoff title. Potsdam was making its 16th appearance and walked away with its 10 title while Pepsi-The Place was competing in its 13th title game but was denied a seventh championship.
“We had a bit of an up-and-down season but when we have most of our guys, like we did today, we showed we’re a pretty good team,” said fullback TJ Hannan.
“We’ve lost a few of our older guys over the last couple of years so we went out and got some youngers player who we thought could help. We beat Potsdam during the season so we knew we could run with them today,” he added. “It was a battle. Everybody played well and I’m very pleased with the effort, especially from our younger guys.”
CJ’s-Chip’s Place opened the scoring 18 minutes into the game when Willi Steinrotter crossed the ball into the penalty from the left wing and struck the side of a defender. The ball deflected right to Mark Misiak breaking toward the far post and he made no mistake planting a shot into the back of the net.
Pepsi-The Place countered with the equalizer less than three minutes later when veteran Elijah Finley controlled a long cross from the left wing to the right corner, dodged a defender then slid a pass across the front of the goalmouth to Grant Prudhomme, who one-timed the ball into the top of the net.
Cj’s-Chip’s Place regained the lead seven minutes later on a perfectly executed corner kick from the right that started with a far post cross by Steinrotter and ended with a Tommy Crabill header into the top left corner of the net.
Pepsi-The Place closed the first half with a near-miss over the crossbar then started the second half by maintaining sustained pressure through the opening 10 minutes before CJ’s-Chip’s Place settled into its possession game and was able to preserve the lead.
Ben Steinberg handled four shots backstopping the win while Jake Sias made nine saves working the crease in the loss.
“We had a little bit of a hiccup there to start the second half. Ogdensburg really came after us but our guys stepped it up. Everyone played great the rest of the way,” said Sharlow after the Potsdam booters avenged their only setback with the hard-fought win.
DIVISION II FINAL
In the first-ever Division II playoff final which opened the championship double-header at the SUNY Potsdam turf field, Cornerstone Energy Services-SeaComm of Potsdam outlasted regular season champion S&L Electric of Colton 1-0.
“There was a lot of emotion on the field. You could really see how much both teams wanted to win,” noted league director Tony Betrus afterward.
After a scoreless first half that saw the teams manage just one shot apiece, Cornerstone-SeaComm found the mark just three minutes into the second half. Regular season offensive MVP Rick Gilchrist controlled a pass from Aaron Cote in the right corner and quickly returned the ball to Cote, who darted toward goal the pounded a close range shot into the near side of the net.
The Colton booters went on to dominate the majority of the rest of the game but were unable to produce the equalizer after being steadily frustrated by the diving efforts of netminder Jordan Kendall, who finished with six saves and was later named the Division II playoff MVP.
Craig Miller recorded two saves, the second off a breakaway in the final minute of regulation, working the crease in the losing cause.
Despite the loss, S&L Electric earned the chance to move up to the Division I ranks for the 2015 season after having led the regular season standings, replacing Frary Funeral Home of Ogdensburg.
POST-GAME AWARDS: Betrus presented several individual and team awards following Sunday’s Division II game. The Division I Offensive MVP was Mark Misiak and Defensive MVP was Travis Jordan of Canton. The Division II Offensive MVP was Matt Konecnik of Cornerstone-SeaComm and the Defensive MVP was Gyle Dominy of S&L Electric. The Division I Team Sportsmanship Award went to Massena Savings and Loan-Kassian Realty and the Division II Team Sportsmanship Award went to Heuvelton. Misiak was later named the Division I Playoff MVP.