By CARSON WERNER
HILTON, N.Y. — Keefer Calkins netted Bath-Haverling’s only necessary goal in the 23rd minute of the match to advance to the New York State Class B semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Lackawanna (VI).
Four minutes into the match, Lorenzo Serafini was helped off the field after getting undercut while going for a 50/50 ball. His return to the field, eighteen minutes later, generated the go-ahead goal just a minute after his re-entry. From a little before midfield, he fed a through ball to his counterpart, Calkins, who rolled the ball into the left corner of the net, barely missing the outstretched leg of Lackawanna keeper, Yousef Albakri.
“We were together and we were able to get me a nice shot through a diagonal ball,” Calkins noted about his goal. “I knew the defender might have fell and when I looked up the goal was right there.”
The second half opened with a chance from Thomas Binkowski who labeled a low drive off the far post, deep from the right side of the box. In the 62nd minute, Binkowski redeemed himself with a shot that deflected off a Lackawanna defender and into the net, giving the Rams a 2-0 lead.
Lackawanna’s best opportunities came on half-field sprints from scoring leader, Ali Alomari. When given space, his speed complimented by his ball-control allowed the Steelers to push deep into the Rams’ half. However, Bath-Haverling’s swarming strategy limited his scoring abilities. Senior midfielder Sam Arnts was tasked with being his shadow for the majority of the match.
“We purposely had a guy on him all game long and then one guy behind so if he started to get an edge out one way or another, he could jump to him and stop it,” Bath-Haverling head coach Matt Hill said. “He’s probably the most dangerous kid in Section VI.”
The Steelers’ best chance at tying the game came on a direct kick following one of Alomari’s runs. Goalkeeper Jordan Deats suppressed the opportunity by securing the ball on a short hop and preventing the charging offense from taking another shot.
“When they put Alomari up top in the second half, we dropped one of our guys back into the center midfield to have an extra guy on defense,” Hill added.
Bath-Haverling’s defense was particularly superb at stepping into balls to break up passes, rushes and shots. Distribution between midfielders and the offense was kept on the ground, allowing the Rams to maintain consistent control. The trio of Binkowski, Serafini and Calkins led the offense on several of its rushes using well placed through balls.
“We have great chemistry,” Calkins added about his offensive teammates, Serafini and Binkowski. “We move the ball well and we’re able to find the open spaces to pass to.”
Lackawanna’s season ends with a record of 18-4-0. Alomari finishes with 48 goals on the year, tying Ali Shawish’s single-season record set for Lackawanna in 2015.
For the first time since 1996 when the Rams won the NYS Class B title, Bath-Haverling (21-0-0) is making a return to the final four. The Rams will take on the Skaneateles Lakers (15-5-0) in the semifinal match on Nov. 16 at Faller Field in Middletown. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:45 PM.