Gil Palladino, who retired in 2014 after coaching the Clinton boys varsity soccer team for 22 years as head coach, returns this week to a Section Three title game.
Palladino spent the 2015 season in retirement, but was hired to coach the combined Westmoreland-Oriskany team three years ago. The Bulldogs had won just one game the previous year; in his first year Palladino led the team to a sectional berth for the first of four straight years.
The last time the Clinton resident reached a sectional final game was in 2011, when Clinton beat Marcellus and advanced to the state’s Final Four.
This year the Bulldogs will play for the Section Three Class C title, having outlasted No. 1 seed South Lewis in a shootout in the semifinal. W-O played No. 2 seed Bishop Grimes Tuesday for the sectional championship.
In the semifinal the teams tied at 1-all at the half and then 2-all after regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods. The Bulldogs won 3-1 in a shootout to advance to their first-ever sectional game.
W-O goalkeeper Andrew Pysnik, who had an outstanding game when the Bulldogs beat Waterville, made 14 saves, including two in the shootout. W-O improved to 14-4-1 with the win.
Westmoreland-Oriskany had to come back twice to tie the game after South Lewis scored the game's first goal in the 13th minute. South Lewis again took the lead in the game's 44th minute.
With 10 minutes remaining the Bulldogs scored again. W-O needed a shootout to get by Tully in the second round.
At Clinton Palladino retired with 331 wins and a total of 29 years with the program. His Warriors teams won 12 league titles and two sectional titles.