JAMESTOWN - There was only one way that Southwestern standout Ross Beresford was coming out during the 13th annual Chautauqua County Senior Boys Soccer All-Star Game - played on an unseasonably warm and bright Sunday afternoon - and it wasn't pretty.
"I jokingly told him that while I had to play everybody," White Team coach Dan Molfino said with a laugh, "unless he had a broken leg he was not coming off the field."
Fortunately for Beresford, that never happened, and save for a short spell - very short - early in the second half, Molfino kept his word about leaving the talented ball handler and passer in the fray.
Photo by Rob Tucker
Fredonia’s Aidan Lange chases after a loose ball during the boys’ Chautauqua County senior all-star soccer game, in Jamestown, on Sunday.
And it's a good thing he did, too.
Beresford, who led the Trojans to their first sectional title in a decade and scored a team-high 15 goals with 10 assists, netted a goal from about 40 yards out in the waning moments of regulation to clinch for the White Team a 2-0 victory at the Martin Road Athletic Complex.
The score, coupled with his ability to distribute and possess, earned the senior the most outstanding player accolades for his team.
"(The voting) was close between him and Aiden Lang (of Fredonia, another solid midfielder on the White Team)," Molfino explained, "but the fact that (Beresford) scored put him over the top. He's a gifted player, one that's going to play at the next level."
While Beresford's tally quelled any lingering thoughts amongst the Blue Team of a comeback, for much of the game the decision remained greatly in doubt, thanks in large part to the outstanding goaltending of the competing squads.
The victors were led by Nick Hart of Fredonia, who made four saves to preserve the shutout, including one diving stop 20 minutes into the contest against Frewsburg's Tyrel Adelgren, while Blue Team goalkeeper Tim Bender's (Cassadaga Valley) play - he made 11 saves against 12 shots - warranted his selection as that squad's most outstanding player.
"He played well," Blue coach Andrew Pihlblad said. "The goal that was scored was not his fault at all, and he made a couple big saves to keep it basically a 1-0 game. He was solid back there."
That game-winning goal - Beresford's score came when Pihlblad, his team down one, decided to go with a roving goalie that could move up on offense as well as fall back to make a save - came in the 30th minute. Westfield's Dan Tofil got possession inside the area as he raced down the field and chipped the ball over Bender, who had come out of the goalie box to cut the angle as best he could.
The score remained 1-0 for the next 49 minutes and 20 seconds as each team's offensive attack was smartly turned aside by calm and consistent defensive play.
Molfino, who coaches Falconer and has been participating in the senior all-star game for the past nine years, was glad to see solid soccer played by both sides and to come away with the win.
"When you find players that have the skill - and all of them (out there today) had the skill - that's when you see a better game. They all know the game, so you could see the difference.
"For nine years I've been doing this, and it's a lot of fun. (I enjoy) having players that I coached against for the past three or four years on my team. We had great weather and my team won, so we're happy."