By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Call it a case of feeding an appetite. A healthy appetite.
The Greece Athena Trojans grabbed a three-goal advantage and held on to defeat crosstown rival Greece Arcadia, 3-1 to claim the Section Five Class A1 Boys Soccer title. The championship was the third straight for the Trojans.
“I can’t put it into words,” said senior Ryan Lindeman. “I can remember two seasons ago when I was just a sophomore and winning that sectional title. It was an unbelievable great feeling because it was the first in history. I knew after that sectional I wanted to get more. We really worked in the off-season, and we got the results.”
Lindeman’s work on the right wing led to Athena’s second goal of the night. The senior got between an Arcadia defender and the ball on a rush along the right side of the 18-yard box where he fed Dylan Rice for the eventual winning goal.
“I went down to the end line,” Lindeman explained. “I heard Dylan scream for it. I saw him in a see through, and I passed it to him.”
The eighth-grader one-timed a shot from just inside the box.
“I thought the difference in the second half was that he kept getting end line,” third-year Athena coach Mike Butler said of Lindeman. “He kept beating kids and getting end line and then slotting balls. That’s what you want to do. Get to the end line and find people behind you.”
Four minutes later, CJ Takatch took advantage of a give away in the box and fed teammate Cameron Welling for a three-goal Athena lead.
“I thought we did a nice job of framing the box, too,” Butler added. “We always had a guy behind it.”
Takatch gave Athena a 1-0 in the game’s 15th minute, and Butler pointed to the sophomore’s influence on their second goal of the night.
“CJ left it,” Butler noted. “He could’ve hit, but he let it go, and Dylan came in behind it.”
Arcadia’s Tyler Lewandowski made it a 3-1 game in the 55th minute. The sophomore attacker had a chance two minutes later to cut the deficit to one but sailed a shot just over the cross bar.
Lewandowski’s teammate, Anthony Cupello, nearly made it a one-goal game when a giveaway in the box created an open-goal opportunity. Athena senior defender Matt Dellario alertly stepped in front of Cupello and blocked the shot.
“That was crazy,” Lindeman said of his teammate’s save. “Dellario has been making plays like that all season. I knew he’d get the job done.”
“They had a lot of great opportunities,” Butler said. “I thought we might run ‘em out of there when it was three-zip, and then I was thinking I’ll be able to sub soon. Then they made the goal, and they put a lot of pressure on us for a while. I felt like they ran a little out of gas there down the stretch because they had made so much of a great push. It’s a credit to them.”
Athena improved to 12-3-3 and will play A2 champion Honeoye Falls-Lima in the Class A regional qualifier. Athena won the 2014 New York state championship.
“What has been really fun is that, of course when you win like we have for three years obviously that can create some excitement and that’s what you get,” Butler commented. “The first kids that were here they all come back. They come to a lot of games. I had to kick them off the sideline because they like to stand with us. I’m like ‘you got to go for this one, you can’t be here. I’m going to get in trouble.’ There’s probably 15 alumni guys who are here watching the game and cheering us on. They get just as excited about it. That’s a nice thing.”
Athena and HF-L will play Tuesday at Spencerport High School. A 5:30 p.m. kickoff is scheduled.