NEWARK — For the second time in the Section V Class B1 tournament the Geneva boys soccer team had to face a Finger Lakes East foe after splitting their head-to-head matches in the regular season. On Saturday night No. 2 Geneva faced off against No. 1 Palmyra-Macedon for final bragging rights in the championship game.
When all was said and done, the Red Raiders got the final say with a 2-1 victory.
“We got motivated for this game in a couple of different ways,” Pal-Mac coach Chris Mahnke said. “First of all Jeff Dunham should be applauded for what he has done with the Geneva program. He came into the league roughly nine years ago, and we hit it off instantly. We’re very good friends, he coaches classy soccer and he knows what he is doing. This is the best Geneva team that I’ve ever seen.”
“These kids have fought their butts off all year long,” Dunham said. “Our goal was to be in this game and give ourselves the opportunity to win a sectional championship. Obviously we wished it turned out differently, but I’m so proud of them. I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“Not just this year, but throughout the course of their careers — especially the seniors. It’s a program changing team this year. So I’m proud of them.”
The Red Raiders (17-2) struck first as junior attacker Jace Schafer buried a penalty kick past Mitch Burrall at the 25-minute mark. Burrall turned away 10 shots in his final game between the pipes.
Geneva (13-5) turned momentum back in its favor roughly two minutes later thanks to leg of Ryan Fishback and the shoulder of Jordan Myer. Fishback booted a beautiful curling corner kick that deflected off Myer’s shoulder and past Pal-Mac goalie Alex Wadsworth. Wadsworth made four saves in the win.
“You won’t find a bench better than our bench,” Dunham said in regards to shifting momentum on his side. “Our bench is hyped up all game long. They’re pumped, they’re jumping up and down, they’re chirping to their teammates on the field — they’re excited to be here. We were excited.”
In the 54th minute Pal-Mac scored what would be the game-winning goal. Sophomore midfielder Joe Clark delivered a corner kick right in front of the net that found Evan Hurlbut who blasted a one-timer into the goal.
While the Red Raiders had a 9-3 advantage in corner kicks, both teams were dead even in the shot department with 13. Geneva’s best opportunity to tie the game back up came with roughly 5 1/2 left as senior defender Parker Bossard banged a deep free kick off the top of the cross bar.
Despite losing to a rival in the championship game, Dunham hopes to be around for a rematch next season. Mahnke feels the same way.
“You always shoot higher and set the goal higher,” Dunham said. “Next year I want to be back in this game again. These boys want to be back in this game again, hopefully with a different result. We’ll be taking the next step. We’ll get into the gym in the winter time and start going right away, and then all summer long for the outdoor game. We’re going to start preparing again and hopefully get back here next year. I hope Chris Mahnke comes back again with the Red Raiders so we can get a rematch.”
“When I come to Geneva and Geneva comes to me I know exactly what type of soccer they’re going to bring,” Mahnke said. “It’s going to be hard-nosed, it’s going to be fair, it’s going to be fast, and it’s going to be as precise as those guys can play. I love playing against Jeff, I really do.”