By PAUL GOTHAM
Adriano Margiotta snapped a scoreless tie in the 73rd minute, and the McQuaid Jesuit Knights held on to beat the Webster Thomas Titans, 1-0 in Class AA semi-final action at Spencerport Central Schools, Thursday night.
Margiotta converted a free kick from 25 yards away and the Knights, ranked No. 1 NYS Class AA and No. 2 USA Today, improved to 18-0-0 on the season.
“It feels incredible,” he said. “Webster’s a great team. That was a really hard-fought game. Both sides played really well. I’m just glad we were able to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net and get that victory.”
With Thomas goalkeeper, Jake Witte, shading to the near post, Margiotta went to the right and beat the Thomas wall.
“They lined up their wall, and I saw the goalie cheating a little bit,” the senior midfielder said. “I tried to play it in to the far post. It wasn’t the best shot, but the goalie was cheating a little bit over the wall, so I was able to find the back of the net there.”
After the Knights had goals disallowed on two previous occasions, Margiotta delivered his 11th of the season to go with a team-high 14 assists.
“To see those disallowed obviously hurt, but it was good to know we were able to at least create those chances that could have been goals,” he said. “This is my most important goal so far. This is our biggest game of the year. I’m so incredibly blessed that my team was able to find that chance.”
That the lone goal of the match occurred on a set piece was fitting. Having met earlier in the month and playing to a similar 1-nil outcome, the Titans limited McQuaid to few scoring opportunities in the open field. Consistently jamming the 18-yard box with nine players, the Titans frustrated McQuaid.
“They’re incredibly organized,” Margiotta said of Thomas. “Every single player on that field knew their job and knew where to transition. They did a great job of that. That gave us a lot of trouble finding ways to get through the backline.”
“They’re physical, and they’re tough,” said second-year McQuaid coach Nino Pilato. “They’re well-placed on the field. They don’t lose a lot of balls, so it’s difficult to get through there.
“They’re very disciplined with their formation that they play. They have some big, strong kids who are skilled also so it makes it difficult.”
One year after falling to Webster Schroeder on penalty kicks in the quarter-finals, the Knights advanced to the finals for the first time since they won the 2009 title.
“It feels good for tonight,” Pilato said. “We had a goal in mind this season and that was to get this bunch of guys to the final and then play that one game and see what happens.”
McQuaid got a ball into the net off a corner kick in the first half but offsides was ruled on the play. Similarly, the Knights also had a free kick earlier in the second stanza where a foul was ruled on the play to take away another scoring chance.
The Knights will meet Hilton Tuesday for the Class AA crown. A 7:30 p.m. kickoff is scheduled at Spencerport.