Why the Waterville boys varsity soccer team put together one of its best regular seasons in years, including recognition in state rankings, became obvious in their last game before the playoffs.
Their game vs. Westmoreland/Oriskany started 30 minutes late because it took almost all of those minutes to introduce all the seniors on Senior Night for the Indians. A dozen of them and their families gathered on the turf at Brothertown Stadium before the game to thank the guys who have suited up for this program for the last few years, as well as Marco Barberi, here one season as a Rotary Exchange student.
The Bulldogs and Indians then played out a game worthy of a sectional final, a place both hope to be in as playoffs begin this week. W-O took home the 1-0 win, dropping Waterville to 12 wins, 3 losses and a tie heading to sectionals.
They might well meet again down the playoff road, as former Clinton coach Gil Palladino and WCS coach Brian Bogan put on the field a combined 50-plus years of coaching experience. After a year off after retiring at Clinton, Palladino has spent the past three years rebuilding the program into a winning one.
Bogan sent out an all-senior lineup to begin the game, with Dustin Fuller pulling on the goalie gloves for the first 10 minutes. He made a strong save before taking his usual spot in front of the net on defense when Cole Pearsall came in.
Waterville looked to score early, as Austin Hutchins and Jeremy Lakata made some pretty give-and-go plays to each other. But as happened all game, W-O goalie Andrew Pysnik was where he needed to be to stop all shots.
Hutchins, the corner kick man for the Indians, set two of them smack in the middle of a crowd midway...