Lansing boys win fourth straight Section IV title

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For the fourth consecutive season, the Lansing Bobcats are heading to the New York State Boys Soccer Tournament. The team is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive state title at the Class C level. To punch their ticket this year, the Bobcats battled to a 2-1 victory over rival Trumansburg on Saturday in Oneonta.

Scoring both goals for Lansing was junior Morgan Somchanhmavong (Som-chan-muh-vong), who put forth his best performance of the season when it counted most. He got things started in just the fourth minute of the game when Mason Edwards sent a cross in that Sam Panzer deflected to Somchanhmavong, who knocked it into the net with his head.

Scoring that early in the game was great for Lansing, but Somchanhmavong believes it may have had an adverse effect.

“I thought it was very important to boost morale, get us excited for the game,” Somchanhmavong said of his first goal. “Although, it did make us feel a bit sluggish, a little bit too relaxed. But I thought it was pretty important.”

As the first half went on, Trumansburg began to generate more chances, eventually scoring a game-tying goal off a chip shot from Ethan Peck with 17 minutes left in the first half. Going into the half tied, Somchanhmavong discussed what adjustments coach Benji Parkes made prior to the final 40 minutes of play.

“[Coach Parkes] thought we were working pretty hard,” Somchanhmavong said. “I thought we were working hard, playing our positions well, possessing like we usually do. We just needed to find our shape in the midfield more, work around there and then focus on the outside instead of forcing the ball out wide.”

That midfield work came together for Lansing in the second half, with seniors Alex Rose and Mason Edwards leading the way. Through short passing and focusing on possession, Lansing forced Trumansburg to play in their defensive half of the field for the great majority of the game.

“[Rose and Edwards] are fantastic players - very technical, which is important for our team,” Somchanhmavong said. “It allows us to keep our shape and get wide because they are able to dribble around players incoming. They don’t panic under pressure. They pick their heads up and they are just fantastic players.”

The game-winning goal came nine minutes into the second half. Eli Bartholemew found Somchanhmavong with a cross. Somchanhmavong then settled it down with his chest, cut around a defender to his right, then drilled the ball past the Trumansburg goaltender, Richard Prosser, to push the score to 2-1. Somchanhmavong explained what he was thinking leading to the game-winner.

“Basically, what goes through my mind all the time: run through the ball and go as hard as I can,” Somchanhmavong said. “Luckily, I got the ball to bounce in my direction, and when I picked my head up coming off the ground, I just saw my spot and placed it right where I wanted it to.”

Lansing held on for the final 31 minutes to take home another Section IV title, earning a spot in the state tournament. The Bobcats outscored their opponents 18-1 in the tournament and are playing their best soccer of the year at the right time.

“It’s definitely moving around positions. At the beginning of the year, I was in the midfield,” said Somchanhmavong, who is now a forward. “A bunch of people were in different areas, how we played last year, but we didn’t have the same personnel. So, Benji moved us around, and I think that was the most important thing - finding what position fits the player the most.”

Key pieces to the state championship dynasty and lethal offensive players Langston Hopkins and Erik Goehler have graduated, but now, Lansing has configured a style of play that fits the current personnel. The Bobcats are primed for a run at a third consecutive championship.

Lansing is now the last soccer team standing, boys or girls, in the county. The girls team reached the semifinals of their bracket but was eliminated in a close 6-5 game against top-seed Unatego.

Newfield boys won their first playoff game ever this year, but their season came to an end in the following round against Lansing.

Ithaca boys and girls came up short in the Class AA brackets, with the top-seeded boys team losing in a first-round upset against eventual champions Corning and the girls losing a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to Elmira in the finals.

The Dryden Purple Lions boys team had a great season, winning the IAC championship in their first appearance in over a decade. They followed that up with a first-round sectional win over Spencer Van-Etten/Candor but were shutout by eventual Class B champions Oneonta in the semifinals. The girls team, who also won the IAC Championship, were eliminated in the first round by Chenango Valley.

The Trumansburg girls team had only three wins in the regular season but reached the second round of the playoffs after defeating Oxford. They then fell to Elmira Notre Dame, who went on to defeat Groton in the semifinals.

The Bobcats are still going strong, and their quest for a state title begins on Saturday in Liverpool and will play the winner of Tuesday night’s Section III final between Westmoreland-Oriskany and Bishop Grimes. This article went to print prior to that game.

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