Papas delivers game winner; Canandaigua overtakes Brockport in opening round of Class A sectionals

BROCKPORT, N.Y. — Disregarding the score, it would seem as though Brockport trounced the Canandaigua Braves based on the heavy advantage in time of possession and offensive chances. However, it’s not always the more dominant team that leaves victorious, especially when it comes to postseason soccer.

After being trapped in their own end for the majority of the second half, the Braves found themselves relying on a long through-ball that was never there. The pushed-up Blue Devil defense used goalkeeper Logan Peck for drop passes whenever Canandaigua sent a ball too far for its offense.

Canandaigua finally got its opportunity with just over a minute remaining in regulation. The Braves offense filed into the top of the box and awaited a free-kick setup at midfield. On the kick, Peck left his line and punched the ball away from scrum. Orestes Papas settled the attempted clear and chipped it back into the Brockport net, sending the visiting crowd and bench into pandemonium.

“We’re coming off a pretty low stretch at the end of the season so it felt really good to put it in and keep the season going,” Papas noted about his game-winner.

The time remaining on the clock — one minute.

The Blue Devil offense managed another corner kick in the time remaining, but was unable to capitalize. The Braves’ attention was focused on defense from the start of the second half and at times would only have two players at midfield when Brockport was pushing.

“If we would’ve scored that second goal when we had the momentum in the first half, it would’ve been a whole different ball game,” Canandaigua head coach Mark Annesi said. “We knew they were going to come with pressure so we changed the formation a little. It threw us off a bit, making us a little flat, but we weathered the storm and that was the key.”

When the second half began, it was clear that the trailing Blue Devils still had a lot of life left in them. Nick VanWie tied the match, 1-1, four minutes into the second half on a simple through ball that he buried into the left corner.

“In the first half he [Annesi] ran multiple subs through, trying to slow the game down,” Brockport head coach Jeff Phillips said. “They probably subbed about 40 to 50 times in the first half and I tried telling the guys at halftime ‘it’s a 40-minute game, we just need to relax. We can’t go get it in the first 30 seconds. It’s going to take a team effort and all 40 minutes to get a goal. To their credit, we got the early goal we needed but just couldn’t find the second one.”

Perhaps from postseason jitters, the first half started with several missed opportunities from both sides. If the ball was kept on net, Canandaigua goalkeeper August Obenauer spoiled the chance while Peck found support from the post.

Following a diving breakaway save by Obenauer, the Braves marched back down the field and grabbed the 1-0 lead at the 10 minute mark. Dominick Spychalski ripped a shot off the post that trickled back out front for Aidan Russell to finish on an exposed net.

“We got in behind them many times and their keeper, to his credit, made three huge saves in the first half to keep them in the game,” Phillips said. “I felt like we were the better team tonight and came up a bit short, but that’s the game of soccer.”

Canandaigua is now set to play the number one seed, Spencerport, in the sectional quarterfinals. The Braves lost to the Rangers 6-0 on two separate occasions during the regular season. The third matchup is scheduled to start on Friday, Oct. 25th at 5:00 pm at Spencerport.

“We’re going to look at some film and see if we can adjust,” head coach Mark Annesi said. “They’re [Spencerport] very dangerous offensively and we have our hands full. But like I told the guys, this time of year anything can happen and in soccer there is no guarantee.”

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