Two was the lucky number for the second-seeded defending state champion Greece Athena boys soccer team. The Trojans shut out top-seeded Brockport 2-0 for their second consecutive Section V Class A1 championship on Friday.
Greece Athena (14-4-1) next plays the winner of the Class A2 championship, Honeoye-Falls Lima, in the state qualifier on Tuesday.
Trojans Coach Mike Butler spoke about comparing this year’s and last year’s path to the sectional final.
“It’s actually quite similar,” Butler said. “I knew we had a lot of talent and even the games we lost, I felt like we were the better team.”
Butler took over coaching midseason in 2014 and led his team to the state title. Prior to this, Athena had never won sectionals before. The Trojans won last year’s sectional title 2-0 against Pittsford Mendon.
Senior captain and MVP Zach Koons scored both goals for the Trojans, with his first sailing to the upper corner of the goal past Brockport keeper Joe McNulty in the seventh minute of the match.
“The ball was just sitting perfectly and I got a toe on it,” Koons said.
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The teams had split matches previously this season, with Athena winning the first 3-0, and Brockport taking the second matchup 4-3.
Brockport (13-6) had a few chances in the first half but could not convert.
“We got away from our possession game in the attacking third,” Brockport coach Chris Zorn explained. “When you don’t do what you’re expected to do and what we’ve been practicing, things tend to fall apart and that seemed to happen tonight.”
However, Zorn was pleased with how the season had gone for his team overall. “I guess if you took a look at it and told me on Aug. 17 we’d be a No. 1 seed and sectional finalist, I would think you were nuts.”
“The guys worked hard, we learned a lot this year and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
It’s the best feeling in the world.
Tyler Graves, Greece Athena
Though he was on the losing side of the ball, McNulty made a handful of difficult saves in the air and on the ground to keep the Blue Devils in the game.
“Joe has stepped in after our number one keeper got hurt early on,” Zorn said. “The kid works hard every single day in practice, demands a lot from himself and filled that spot well for us this year.”
Athena’s second goal, came in the second half after junior Ryan Lindeman broke away at midfield and got through both defenders in his path. The keeper came out to defend Lindeman’s shot, and Koons was there to put it away.
Senior captain Anthony Paris couldn’t hide the big grin after the victory. “We came in playing our game, we knew we had to lock down (Blue Devils forward Alex Ricci),” Paris said. “It’s unbelievable … To think we repeated like this is crazy.”
Trojans keeper Tyler Graves kept a clean sheet. He has only allowed 14 goals all season.
“Being a keeper is 99-percent mental, 1-percent physical,” Graves said. “We’re planning as a team to keep it going and we just hope for the best. It’s the best feeling in the world.”