Whoever sets up the Midstate Athletic Conference girls soccer schedule each year seems to have a good sense of humor. They always love an early season matchup between Unatego and Delhi.
The two talented teams met up again Wednesday, Sept. 8, in Otego and the rivalry was a hot topic of conversation. “This always seems to happen to us” said Delhi goalie Sylvia Liddle. “We have to play Unatego right away before either team really is in the groove. It’s always hard and there is a lot on the line.”
That last part is definitely true. With the two teams playing in the same MAC division, a victory in early September can go a long way towards a league-title-game birth in late October.
It also seemed like there was a little something extra on the line this time around. In a pandemic shortened spring season last year, it was Delhi clipping Unatego, 1-0, in a very exciting game at Delaware Academy. My hunch is even though that game technically didn’t have playoff implications, it still stung for the Spartans.
This chapter of the story played out like many matchups of the past. It was a close game that wasn’t decided until the closing minutes. I think many local fans are thinking this about Unatego … how do you replace all-state players like Dana Stepp (NYS Class C Player of the Year), Meghan Perry
(a phenomenal goalie that was a key part of their state championship appearance in 2019) and her sister, Morgan Perry, (a midfielder that always seemed to be in the right place at the right time)?
Well, the answer seems to start with junior midfielder, Kylie Mussaw. She finished with two goals and one assist against DA and was a cool, calm and collected presence for longtime coach, Sue Herodes. Her second goal late in the contest was a thing of beauty. She made a long run down the left wing and cut towards the goal. It looked like she was primed for a quick cross but instead faked back and fired a low shot to the near side corner of the net. It fooled everyone on the field including the Delhi goalie, who couldn’t recover in time.
It wasn’t just Mussaw who looked strong for Unatego. Tatum Codington and Bailey McCoy scored one goal each and freshman forward Lizzie Craft also had several good looks on net. Craft already netted a hat trick in their season opener, a 5-1 win over Sidney. Let’s not forget about the speedy, gritty Anabel Rommer either. She might not be the biggest player on the field but I wouldn’t want to challenge her for a loose ball. Her tenacity will be a big spark in close games this season.
The MAC looks to be highly contested again this season. Between Unatego, Delhi, Unadilla Valley and Oxford, it appears that several teams are making an early statement on their claim to the title.
However, from what I saw last week, Unatego has all the pieces to make it happen again in 2021.
Nate Lull is the sports director for WCDO in Sidney.