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MIDDLETOWN, NY — The third time is the charm, or so they say.
In reality, it depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting on, or in the case of a boy’s championship soccer match, which side of the field you’re playing on.
On Monday, October 22, the #2 seeded Eldred Yellowjackets (6-9) took on the defending state champs, the Eagles of Mount Academy, ranked #1 going into the match, to determine who would be crowned the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) 2018-19 Section IX Class D Champion.
The booters from Mount Academy of the Bruderhof Community blanked Eldred 5-0, scoring four goals in the first half, and added another goal in the final frame.
In the first half, the Eagles went on a scoring rampage: Arnold Benson assisted by Preston Button (31:05), Conner Huleatt/Dean Blough (19:18), Everettt Button/Preston Button (1056), Blough/Everett Button (8:31).
Early in the second half, Benson scored again at 31:26 to post the match’s final goal as both teams battled on to the bitter end at Middletown High’s Faller Field.
As expected, the Eagles took to the field like a well-oiled machine, and their 11-3 record proved that all their gears were well-meshed in the march to victory.
It was the third time this season the two soccer squads met.
Mount Academy prevailed on the previous two occasions, defeating the Yellowjackets 2-1 at Eldred, and in a precursor to the championship game, 5-0 at Esopus, going into the title match.
Tom Huleatt, coach of the Eagles, said that over the last couple of years, his team has faced the Yellowjackets on several occasions, “I really respect Eldred… we know what we’re going to get from them… they play totally hard… their goalie was good.”
Down seven seniors from last year, early on this season Mount Academy was hampered by a series of injuries, but was back up to full strength for the championship.
Aaron Waldner leads the Eagles as their solo captain.
“We’re out there working hard every day, and that put us in position to win… we work hard to put the balls in the back of the net," said the 16-year-old senior.
“We fight for every ball, win every ball.”
Eldred’s coach Josh Santoro said of the year, “It was a fantastic season… I have a great group of young men who are very emotional and wear their hearts on their sleeves… they never give up, a great group of young men to be around.”
“I’m very privileged to be their coach.”
What about the championship match?
“It was a hard fought game… there was a section about 10 minutes into the first half where we had a call that we thought might have gone our way [it didn’t], that maybe could have changed the tide, but we got out of it…”
Eli McGrail is a junior co-captain on the Yellowjackets squad.
“I think we never played better. Mount Academy is a great team; they have a great coach, and they’ve been playing together for a very long time.”
He then brought up a subject that apparently has been on the minds of several folks, including booters and their coaches.
“I don’t know if they should be playing in our division," said McGrail, noting there are some who think the Eagles should move up a notch due to the size of their school.
What about the season that closed out the year for Eldred?
“I’m proud of my guys, every single one of them… I love my coaches, and I’m proud of myself… we played hard, just didn’t get it, and hope for next year.”
This was Chett Kelty’s last game wearing Yellowjackets jersey #17.
After leading his team off the field, Kelty remained proud and unbowed by defeat. “It’s bittersweet… this is like the end of our season to play the big dog. It kind of sucks [to lose], but it happens; you live and learn,” said the co-captain.
For more photos visit www.riverreporter.com. A story and photos from the girls' soccer game played on October 23 will be printed in next week's paper.