TROY, NY (NEWS10) — The Maple Hill boys soccer team has its’ sights set on a return to the state championship. The Wildcats cleared a major hurdle in that quest Wednesday night, knocking off the No. 6 team in the state in Class C, Canton, in a sub-regional matchup.

Wildcats sophomore striker Avery Morse was responsible for advancing his team to regionals; he scored in the 51st minute to break a 1-1 tie, and Maple Hill would go on to win 2-1.

After nearly 30 minutes of scoreless play to open the match, the Wildcats were first to throw a tally on the scoreboard. Off a free kick from Frank Thomas, junior midfielder Ethan Miller crossed a ball to senior midfielder Colby Frazier, who scored right in front of Canton’s goal to put Maple Hill up 1-0.

The Bears had a response in the second half, though. Junior Ryan Jones sent a ball into the Wildcats’ box, hitting junior Ethan Francey right in stride, who drove a shot home, knotting the game up at one.

But just over two-and-a-half minutes later, Morse got in behind Canton’s back line, had a one-on-one with goalkeeper Noah Curry, and Morse capitalized, netting his team’s second goal, and one that would prove to be the game-clincher.

Maple Hill head coach Dan Gillespie recognizes the magnitude of his team’s win against a formidable opponent, but he knows there’s a lot of work left to be done to reach the program’s end-goal.

“Probably the beginning of every season, teams have goals, and one of our goals is to get back to state’s, which we did last year, and we lost in the finals 1-0,” said Gillespie. “So that’s one of our goals…we know this is a stepping stone you have to go through, and it’s not gonna be easy. You gotta play well. You gotta be a little bit lucky. You gotta behave out there, and you gotta put it all together.”

The Wildcats await Northeastern Clinton (11-5) in regionals. The Cougars are out of Section VII, and sit 11th in the state rankings. The two sides meet Saturday at La Salle Institute.