TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With less than three minutes remaining in its first-round sectional matchup with Cohoes Tuesday night, La Salle maintained a one-goal lead and appeared on pace to advance to the quarterfinal round of the Class A boys soccer playoffs.
But with its season hanging in the balance, Cohoes snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, scoring two goals in a two-minute span to shock the Cadets with a 3-2 win, securing a date with top-seeded Ichabod Crane on Monday night.
“We just don’t quit; we train this way,” said Cohoes Head Coach Nick Izzo. “We work hard all the time in practice, and you could just tell how resilient [the guys] are. The hard work throughout the year…you could tell in that last 10 minutes—we had a lot of gas left in the tank. It worked. It got us the ‘W.'”‘ Survive and advance this time of year.”
Eighth-seeded La Salle, a semi-finalist in last year’s Class A tournament, wasted little time before cracking the scoreboard. In the ninth minute, senior forward Geoffrey Olson took a pass from senior forward/midfielder Renato Guida, dribbled past a defender to set up a one-on-one with Cohoes goalkeeper Charlie Gendron, and snuck a left-footed toe poke past Gendron to open up the scoring.
The Cohoes offense, which had been suppressed for much of the first half, finally broke through in the 31st minute. Junior forward Luca Grestini scorched a free kick into the box. La Salle keeper Tyler Mack laid out for a brilliant initial save, but he couldn’t corral the ball, which leaked to a charging Marquay Tanksley, and he put it away to knot the game up at one.
The score remained tied until the 17th minute of the second half. Off a corner kick from Guida, the ball caromed off the shoulder of Cohoes’ Dom Figuria, and La Salle’s Chris Guilbault ranged over to chip the ball over the head of Gendron, reclaiming the Cadets a 2-1 edge.
Just when it seemed like time was running out for the Tigers—trailing by a goal as the clock rolled under three minutes—senior forward Xavier Starks got in behind the La Salle defense. He had one defender to beat to get to Mack and did so before tucking a shot just past a sliding save attempt from the Cadets’ netminder, netting the equalizer.
Then, with less than a minute to go in regulation, Grestini uncorked a shot from the 20-yard line that Mack denied, but the ball rolled across the end line, setting Cohoes up with a corner kick
Grestini put a well-placed ball into the box, and Tanksley was there for a back-door header, scoring the game-winning goal with just 34.7 seconds remaining—his second goal of the evening.
“I reminded the team about the rankings; we had a 2% chance of winning the whole [tournament],” said Tanksley. “I told them, “That’s b-s.” Excuse my profanity. I said, “Go get one.” My guy Xavier got that goal. It’s 2-2. And then we had to score (again). That’s it.
Cohoes will certainly be in for another tough test Monday night in Ichabod Crane. The Riders rank ninth in the state for Class A after an undefeated, 14-0-1 regular season. Ichabod Crane won the regular season meeting 4-2 in Cohoes on Oct. 4.
Kickoff Monday at Ichabod Crane High School is set for 7 p.m.