GENEVA – The temperature was barely above freezing by the time Tuesday night’s Class 3A boys soccer regional semifinal between host Geneva and Neuqua Valley was over, but more distressing than the weather for the Vikings was being frozen off the scoreboard.
Neuqua Valley senior goalkeeper Andrew Fadanelli was in the right place at the right time all night in the Wildcats’ 1-0 victory.
“He made the saves look easy, but that was just because he was well-positioned,” Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said. “He just knew where to be and he handled all our shots pretty easily.”
The Vikings (7-10) put a dozen shots on goal, but none in the net.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Geneva senior midfielder Beck Nebergall said. “I thought overall we had more possession. It just comes down to whether you can finish your chances, and we couldn’t do that tonight.”
Geneva may have had an edge in possession in the first half, but Neuqua Valley’s forwards and midfielders looked more dangerous.
The Wildcats came close to a goal in the 23rd minute when Kas Baladi hit the crossbar with a long shot and a follow-up header by Ryan Ross went just over the goal.
Neuqua Valley finally scored with 6:47 remaining in the half on a header by Jake Loncar off Xavi Ortiz’s free kick from 40 yards out.
The best scoring chance in the first half for the Vikings came in the 21st minute, when French exchange student Igor Honore made a move to lose a defender at the edge of the box and struck a low shot toward the near post.
Fadanelli knocked the shot out of bounds, and Geneva didn’t get a good shot on goal on two subsequent corner kicks.
The Vikings had several good scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of the match, including a beautiful cross across the box from Jason Lagger to Matt Waldoch with just under nine minutes to play, but Fadanelli was able to handle the shot without giving up a rebound.
“We created so many more good opportunities than Neuqua did tonight,” Estabrook said. “The bottom line is they scored the one chance they had and they came out winners. I thought we played really well in long stretches of that game. It just wasn’t our night to finish. That’s the most important thing about soccer. You’re not going to win if you don’t score.”
Joe Mozden made four saves for the Vikings.
“I thought we definitely improved over the course of the season,” Nebergall said. “We didn’t get the results we wanted, but we definitely improved and we had some great spurts. We definitely had some things we could work on, but overall I think we did really well.”
Neuqua Valley advanced to face Oswego in Saturday’s regional championship match at Burgess Field.