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Hornell Defeats Livonia on Senior Night

HORNELL — The Hornell Red Raiders sent their seniors off in style with a 2-1 win over LCAA rival Livonia on Wednesday evening at Maple City Park.

“A couple of people have said to me how difficult it was going to be playing Livonia on senior night, because you would rather have a game where you know you are going to cruise,” said HHS coach Jim Tobin. “But the kids responded so well. And Livonia is going to be a tough out in a couple of weeks in Sectionals because they are a great team. But for us, we fought, we were scrappy and now we are happy for our seniors.”

After the senior night festivities concluded, the teams quickly turned their attention to what would be a classic Hornell-Livonia matchup. The defenses were physical and the goal-scoring opportunities were very hard to come by.

But throughout the opening minutes of play, it was largely the Red Raiders who were in control of the pace and time of possession. Hornell gradually began to generate some scoring chances, but were stymied for much of the first half by a strong Livonia defense.

As the first half came to a close, the Bulldogs dialed up some of their own offensive pressure, and it resulted in the first goal of the game. A perfect pass was placed into the center of the box, where Jake Oliver was waiting to head the ball into the net to give Livonia the 1-0 lead with 2:07 left in the stanza.

The final two minutes were played mostly in the middle of the field, and it seemed like the Bulldogs would easily take the 1-0 lead into the intermission.

But with just under 30 seconds left, Chase Freeland lofted a deep pass over the defense, and Liam Khork timed his run perfectly, grabbing the ball just inside the box with no defenders in sight. The freshman striker took two touches, and then somehow bent his ball between the keeper and the near-side post to make it a 1-1 tie at the halftime break.

After the intermission, the momentum stayed on the Red Raiders side, and it resulted in an early second-half goal that gave HHS its first lead of the night. In the third minute, Tanner Stutzman came out to make a diving save. He stood up, walked to the other side of the field and launched a 60-yard punt down the middle of the field.

It took a high first bounce and then slowly trickled towards the box. As the ball hit the ground, Chase Freeland took off, and he ran around one defender and then barely beat out a second as he got his foot on the ball in the box just before his opponent.

His touch put the ball to the right, trickling just past the reach of a diving keeper and into the back of the net to give the Red Raiders a 2-1 lead with 36:59 left to play.

“That was perfectly fitting, because those two — Tanner is as strong as heck in goal, and Chase is as good as they come up top — for those two to hook up for the game-winner, that was special,” said Tobin. “That’ll be a lasting memory for them.”

And while the Red Raiders were not able to generate any more goals, they kept up the offensive pressure for much of the rest of the half. With a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard, it was the perfect strategy to keep the Bulldogs away from the net.

But in the last five minutes, Livonia pushed all of its players forward in a last-ditch effort to tie up the game. As a result, the last five minutes were arguably the most exciting five minutes all season long, with Tanner Stutzman and the Red Raider defense turning away shot after shot.

Then in the final ten seconds of play, Livonia pushed one last flurry on the net, and it eventually resulted in the Bulldogs having possession in the box and a wide open net in front of them.

But with four seconds left, Ian Ashworth came flying out of nowhere to deflect the wide open shot out of the box, preserving the 2-1 win for the Hornell Red Raiders.

“Being a striker, Ian just hustled his tail off to get back there and prevent them from scoring. It was a smart play,” said Tobin. “The defense was under a lot of pressure all night, and those guys were great back there. Those guys are the unsung heroes. They played so hard and we are all really proud of them.”

Hornell (10-4-1) now wraps up its regular season with a trip to Bath on Friday evening to play the Haverling Rams at 6:30 p.m.