By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Honeoye Falls-Lima boys soccer team knows how to finish. There’s no questioning it. In what is becoming an annual event, the Cougars have reached the sectional finals again.
Head coach Mike Merrill, though, is worried about his team’s ability to start.
“We could have scored probably four or five goals in the first half, but we didn’t,” Miller said after HF-L’s 4-0 victory over Eastridge in the Section 5 Class A2 semi-final match, Tuesday night. “That’s soccer. We kept East Irondequoit in the game.”
David Goetz ignited a three-goal second half with a shot from the left wing in the 65th minute.
“When we play simple, knock the ball around and run off each other, we’re much better,” Merrill said. “We did that a lot better in the second half.”
Kieran Papalia struck eight minutes later for a 3-nil advantage.
“When we do that, we’re tough to play. When we get a little bit selfish, we get out of our game.”
HF-L’s defense held Eastridge leading scorer, Matt Stefaniw, in check.
“Matt is a really good striker,” Merrill noted. “I thought we were better, but there’s always that chance of him getting a one-time ball in there. We really had a strategy, and the guys executed it well. It was a great shutout.”
The junior attacker came into the game with 22 goals on the season. Tuesday night, Stefaniw had little breathing room on the field.
“He’s a good player,” said HF-L senior defender, Ryan Potter. “He’s fast. We were able to contain and keep him under control.
“One on the back of him and one drop back five yards,” Potter said of the Cougars’ plan. “If he beats the first guy, we recycle and take him once he passes one of us.”
Nico Coria started in goal for the Cougars. It was the junior goalkeeper’s 13th clean sheet of the season.
Parker Hotchkiss got HF-L on the scoreboard in the first half. Papalia flicked a throw-in to the box where Hotchkiss found back of the net.
Matthew Bond closed the scoring in the game’s final minute.
HF-L will meet No. 2 Wilson Magnet Friday for the A2 title. A 5 p.m. kickoff is scheduled at Hilton High School. The Cougars will be going for their third straight championship. Wilson Magnet will appear in the program’s first sectional final.