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‘Crafty’ Larson strikes late in Batavia boys soccer's win over Geneva

BATAVIA – It’s not unusual to see a buzzer beater in basketball, but they’re pretty rare in soccer. Batavia junior Ian Larson all but pulled one off Thursday night to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 victory over rival Geneva.

“Before I got the ball, I looked back at the clock and noticed there were 15 seconds left,” Larson said. “So I just tried to turn around and get a shot off before the buzzer.”

Larson did that, putting the ball into the back of the net with 11.4 seconds remaining in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division match.

Moments earlier, it looked like the Vikings (3-4, 0-3 UEC River) would have the final scoring opportunity as they hurried to get a throw-in with less than 30 seconds to play. But the ball wound up on the foot of Batavia junior Adam Heinz, who played it upfield to Larson.

Despite the dwindling seconds on the scoreboard, Larson kept his cool to get off a quality shot.

“I kind of had a chance to shoot at the top of the box,” Larson said. “I kind of faked the shot and pushed it past the defender and got an open shot, so I took it.”

Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said his side was well aware of Larson’s play-making potential.

“Before the game, we talked about how crafty Ian was,” Estabrook said. “And that he’s left-footed. Given that, he still made a brilliant play. Part of that goal falls on our defense, but also fantastic players make fantastic plays, and you’ve got to give Ian some credit for winning the game for them.”

A victory by the Bulldogs (7-2-1, 3-1)  seemed unlikely for much of the match, as they put only three shots on goal.

“The boys did a nice job sticking with it 80 minutes,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “I don’t think we were playing our best game today. That might have had something to do with Geneva, as well, but we missed some opportunities just holding onto the ball, just possessing the ball, some passes that missed. Even with that, the mentality of the guys was to keep going and create that one chance, and that was pretty amazing.”

With a fairly strong southerly breeze at their backs, the Vikings had the better scoring opportunities in the first half, putting three of their five shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes. The best chance came with four minutes left in the half when freshman midfielder Matt Waldoch made a nice crossing pass into the box and junior Calen Colbert made a nice lunge to get a foot on the ball, but the shot went just wide.

The Bulldogs started to finally put together some scoring chances in the second half, but couldn’t solve Geneva keeper Joe Mozden until Larson’s heroics.

“Our past few games, our defense has brought it together,” Geneva senior forward Grant Bracken said. “I’ve been really proud of them. It was just an unlucky opportunity that happened. We should have stopped him earlier. We’ve got to stay focused a full 80 [minutes].”

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