OSWEGO — For a senior to score the game-winning goal in the dying minutes of a scoreless game on Senior Night, a better ending can’t be scripted.
A constant battle between the Oswego varsity boys soccer team and Cortland was drawn out until the 78th minute of the game.
With Marcus Baker on the corner kick, the original attempt skirted out toward the top of the goal box, but Coby Stubbe found the ball and kicked a low shot toward the left post, propelling the Buccaneers to a 1-0 victory.
“My heart’s racing,” Oswego coach Don Fronk said after the game. “The guys are pumped. … To have a senior put that one away for us right at the end, that’s huge.”
Oswego recognized its eight-member senior class — Marcus Baker, Joshua Chun, Zachary DeMott, Clay Kennedy, Preston Norfleet, Henry Sweeney, Stubbe and Cody Vickery — prior to the contest.
Fronk added that, in his first year back at the helm of the program, he relied on the seniors “a ton,” especially since the Bucs don’t have a junior varsity team this season. Oswego’s 22-player roster features 12 underclassmen.
“We really needed those seniors to lead us and kind of build with those younger guys,” Fronk said. “The younger guys are the future, so they’re learning from these seniors.”
Both teams had solid chances throughout the first half, it was Cortland that had a couple late dangerous opportunities. After an Oswego pass to the goaltender that was picked up, the Purple Tigers got a penalty kick inside the goal box, just feet away from goaltender Preston Norfleet, followed by a couple corner kicks.
Everything was knocked away by Norfleet or cleared by the Buc defenders.
“(The halftime talk) was just an affirmation to them that what they were doing in the first half was working, it was what we’ve been wanting to do all season long,” Fronk said. “We wanted to carry that into the second half, and they did.”
The Bucs had more dangerous opportunities in the second half, with a few shots even going off the crossbar. But none of the chances were to any avail, until the late corner kick. With how late in the game the window of opportunity was, Fronk mentioned Oswego pressed a little bit more, pushing more players up during the set pieces play.
Stubbe scored the game-winner with 1:08 left in the game.
“The ball popped out and he just put a beautiful one on net for us,” Fronk said. “We really haven’t given up all year. Even in our really tough games, we’ve fought until the final whistle. That came true tonight for us.”
Norfleet made 12 saves in the contest to preserve the shutout for the Bucs.
As the Bucs try to make a late push toward any sectional hopes, Fronk said the win over Cortland was key — especially after Oswego fell 3-1 the first time around to the Purple Tigers.
“We knew coming in we needed this game if we really want to keep working toward sectionals,” Fronk said. “That’s a great Cortland team right there. It was a great battle all the way through. … “It was probably our best 80 minutes of soccer that we’ve had this year.”
Oswego (4-9) has two games left in its regular season. First is a rematch against Jamesville-DeWitt Tuesday, after falling 5-0 on Sept. 27, before the second game of the series against Fulton on the road next Thursday.
“We know it’s going to be a battle (against J-D). Last time we played them, we were in it for the first 40 minutes. Then they just wore us down,” Fronk said. “If we can bring the intensity that we brought tonight for 80 minutes against J-D, the game’s up for grabs.”