Sooner or later, Broadalbin-Perth senior Dominic Kwiatkowski is going to have to take some credit for the Patriots’ success.
Using his sprinter’s speed, Kwiatkowski scored two second-half goals Saturday morning to lead the Section II champion Patriots to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Section VI champ Akron in the New York state Class B soccer tournament semifinals at Twin Tower Field.
And like he usually does, Kwiatkowski didn’t want to take credit for the win, which put the Patriots into the championship game at 10 this morning at Middletown High School.
“I couldn’t do anything without my team,” said Kwiatkowski, who upped his season’s goal total to 36 for the 18-0-3 Patriots, who are ranked No. 1 in the state. “They set me up, and their success is my success.”
Humble, or not, if Kwiatkowski didn’t have that extra gear, the
Patriots could have been looking at their first loss.
Akron’s back four, and in particular, seniors Mike Henley and Nate Borchert, kept Kwiatkowski in check for most of the first half, keeping him from turning the corner on long runs and also keeping the center clogged up.
But as it turned out, a trend was developing.
“If Dom gets enough opportunities, he’s going to put it in the back of the net,” said Patriots coach Brian Henry. “He had plenty of opportunities in the first half, and I think they [the scoring opportunities] were priming him for the second half.
But Akron, which also lost in the state semifinals last year, knows all about adversity.
The Tigers, who finished the year with a 19-2-1 record, trailed Bath Haverling, 2-0, before rallying for an overtime win in the regionals.
So a scoreless first 40 minutes wasn’t going to rattle them.
An injury substitution helped the Tigers take a 1-0 lead 6:40 into the second half.
When forward David Matalone was helped off the field after hurting his leg, he was replaced by junior Neil Friedman, who scored on a header off a corner kick just 12 seconds after he entered the game.
“No one panicked,” said Henry. “We settled them down immediately. I knew with the number of chances we were getting, we’d be OK.”
Why worry, as long as Kwiatkowski is on the field?
After getting a pass from Ben Bellandi, Kwiatkowski was finally able to turn the corner on the Akron defense, and fired a hard right-footed shot past Tigers goalie Austin Medole with 26:44 left, tying the game at 1-1.
The game-winning goal was even prettier. When junior Tucker Wilcox, the setup man in the
Patriots’ offense, lofted a long lead pass down the middle of the field, Kwiatkowski was level with two defenders.
By the time the ball landed, Kwiatkowski was a full stride ahead and went in alone on the breakaway, easily beating Medole to send the Patriots to the championship game.
“It was getting a little frustrating in the first half,” admitted Kwiatkowski, who was robbed of a hat trick by a great save by Medole with just over eight minutes left. “I just couldn’t get anything going. but in the second half, we made some adjustments, and it helped us quite a bit.
“I don’t think we can play any better than we did today, especially in the second half.”
While Kwiatkowski was the center of attention, the Patriots also got an outstanding game from senior goalie Madison Wilcox, who finished with eight saves.
“He’s unbelievable,” said Henry of his keeper. “We found out last night that he’s all-state, and he showed why today. He kept us in the game. We know we can win games 1-0 or 2-1 because he’s back there, and he’s going to make the big save.”