OLEAN, N.Y. — For the fourth time in the game’s five-year history, the Corporate Cup belongs to the New York boys.
New York avenged its first loss in the NY/PA Corporate Cup Soccer Showcase by holding off Pennsylvania in a highly competitive Sunday nightcap game (after a 4-3 Pennsylvania girls win) at Bradner Stadium, emerging from a 90-minute (plus stoppage time) match with a 2-1 victory.
A scoreless first half saw both teams miss golden scoring opportunities thanks to last-second defensive plays or goalkeepers’ saves, and in New York’s case, a ball off the goal post.
“We were just telling them, ‘Who's going to be the hero? Who's going to be the one to get the scoring started?’” New York coach Nick Perillo, from Cuba-Rushford, said. “Because it felt like we really should have had a couple or at least one in the first. Their goalie made some amazing saves in the first half, so it was really just a matter of who was going to be that guy, who was going to be the one to lay their body on the line to get that first goal?”
Allegany-Limestone, with six players on the New York side, produced some of the victors’ standout performances, from team MVP Hudson “Huddy” Kwiatkowski, who led the New York defense, to both of NY’s goal scorers.
A-L sophomore Zach Luce scored the game’s first goal, converting an assist from Randolph senior Bryson Rozler, just over nine minutes into the second half. Luce received a pass just outside the box and launched a ball to the upper left corner of the net, just out of reach for the Pennsy goalkeeper.
Pennsylvania quickly found an equalizer thanks to a penalty called in the New York box for a penalty kick, as St. Marys senior Vini Nunes tied the game two minutes later.
New York took the lead for good on a penalty kick of its own scored by A-L junior Chance LaCroix.
“I think it was just people started to settle down,” Perillo said of the second-half scoring. “The first half, it's a big game. Most people haven't played with this many fans, so it's exciting for everyone, the jitters, people are nervous, not necessarily making the passes they know they can. In the second half once it dies down, everyone settles in, then we started to play the ball a little bit better and do what we were trying to do.”
Unofficially, New York’s goalkeeping tandem of A-L’s Jack Conroy and Ellicottville’s Jamison Caldwell, who split time in each half, had 10 total saves. Conroy won the New York sportsmanship award.
Kwiatkowski, a 2020-21 junior, was a force on the back end to clean things up in front of the net.
“He's one of those kids you can put anywhere on the field: height, speed, physicality,” Perillo said of his team MVP. “He just had it all tonight, he was easily deserving of the award tonight. I think he should have had a clean sheet but you can't always win them all.”
Perillo said he thought his team started to jell together for the game after weekly practices brought them together.
“It's always good when you get an all-star game that's not just seniors,” Perillo said. “This is anywhere from freshmen all the way through and I think it's really cool to see the culmination of all the practices and the different schools from all over ... that drive sometimes hours to practice, it was awesome to see that tight of a game and come down pretty much to the wire. But obviously we were thrilled to get the win.”
Pennsylvania’s Lewis Painter (Brockway) and Ty Guilds (Port Allegany/Smethport) had seven saves. Painter earned the PA team’s MVP, while his Brockway teammate Noah Bash won the sportsmanship award.
Pennsylvania coach Denny Flatt, from Warren, thought his team played a nearly even game with New York.
I thought both teams were very talented,” Flatt said. “It was obviously a very highly spirited game. It could have gone — I told the players we play 10 matches, we win five, they win five — both teams were very good. The intensity's always very high for this match. The seniors, this is the last chance they really have to play in front of the crowd. But I thought both squads did really well.”
Flatt commended co-founders Kris Linderman and Dave Talbot for their work giving area soccer players a showcase event.
“You never have to have these kids get up for this match,” Flatt said. “As soon as we get ready to play, you know it's going to be intense, you know it's going to be spirited and they come ready to play. What they do, Kris and Dave, to put this on, the amount of time that they put into this, they'll probably start tomorrow on next year's match.”