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Falcons Sports

Falcons Fall in State Semi-Final

Varsity - 2009 Season
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 by M.F. Piraino

In the first game of the day, Fabius-Pompey grinded out a scoreless tie with the second-ranked Tigers (18-2-2) after 110 minutes of soccer. The Tigers outshot the Falcons 20-8, and were more individually skilled than F-P. But the Falcons answered every North Salem challenge and did a solid defensive job on flashy midfielder Brian Span, who came into the game with 16 goals.

"There were two very hard-working teams out here today," F-P coach Mike Danaher. "I was very proud of us."

The match went to penalty kicks with North Salem shooting first. The Tigers converted their first three PKs while the Falcons failed on their first two tries. North Salem keeper John Roach stopped a shot by Doug Himes and Gabe Esposito's attempt was wide right.

Jacob Finlay and Brian Poole scored on their PKs to keep the Falcons in it. With the fate of their season hinging on North Salem's fifth PK, F-P players knelt or stood at the 50-yard line nervously waiting for Dan Loftus to take his shot. Loftus ended F-P's season by punching a shot into the back of the net to seal the shootout win 4-2.

Danaher was fairly confident going into the shootout with keeper Paul Houck, who made several key saves throughout the game. Houck finished with 17 saves.

"Paul was frozen a little bit (on the goal line)," Danaher said. "But he got his hands on three of them. The officials warned the keepers about moving early before the shootout and I think that froze Paul a little bit. But he did a great job all day, all through the tournament."

Houck was among the F-P players Danaher hugged or patted on the back after the match. For Danaher, it was his fifth appearance in the state semifinals and his last. Danaher is retiring after 31 years of coaching. He said this year's club was one of his more memorable teams.

"This might be the best team I've had," Danaher said. "I think they're awesome. No coach could ask for anything more."

North Salem of Section I, which dropped to Class C this year because of enrollment, advanced to play defending state champ Red Creek today.

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