CANTON -- Potsdam tried to muscle its way past Plattsburgh High Wednesday night, but lacked the stamina to go the distance with the Hornets in the Section 7-10 boys' Class B soccer regional at SUNY Canton.

Plattsburgh (20-1-1) weathered Potsdam's aggressive play with a couple of big saves by Justin Lavarnway and then rode goals by Michael Bennett and Joe Shannawi to a 2-0 victory.

The Hornets, in extending their unbeaten string to 15 games, moved to within one game of returning to the state Final Four in Oneonta. PHS will take on Tamarac (Section II) Saturday in Chazy at a time to be determined with the winner advancing to the state semifinals the following weekend.

Plattsburgh High made it to the Class B championship game last fall, losing to Spackenkill (Section IX), 1-0.

The Hornets, who beat Potsdam, 2-1, two years ago, anticipated another rough time with the Sandstoners and the Section X champs did not disappoint.

"They dominated the first 10 minutes," PHS Coach Chris LaRose acknowledged. "They play a very physical brand of soccer and we figured if we could weather the first 5-10 minutes, we'd be okay.

"They (Potsdam) were very phsical against Bennett and (Jordan) Conroy, trying to take us out of our rhythm. But once we got our legs underneath us and started spreading things out, we were able to control the play more."

Still, Potsdam had an excellent opportunity to take the lead 15 minutes in when leading scorer Ryan Bercume broke in all alone on Lavarnway. But the PHS keeper came out to make a sliding save at the 18-yard line.

Plattsburgh had three good chances to score in the first half. Kyle Kirk headed a ball from close in, but Potsdam keeper Ben Steinberg was up to the task at the 18-minute mark. Steinberg then denied Bennett on a one-and-one and late in the half, Kyle Knight's shot glanced off Steinberg, but no one was there to put in the rebound.

Nearing the midway mark of the second half, a Potsdam player broke through, but Lavarnway came out to smother the ball.

"Justin played one of his strongest games of the season, even though he had only two saves," LaRose said. "On both Potsdam breakaways, he did not hesitate and came out to make big plays."

Minutes later, at 20:44, Plattsburgh scored. Conroy hopped on a loose ball 30 yards out, beat one defender and at the top of the 18, laid the ball off to Bennett coming up the right wing. Bennett then went far post from 12 yards out for a 1-0 PHS lead.

Drew Wyand then put a shot from 22 yards just over the crossbar as the momentum shifted decidedly in Plattsburgh's favor.

"We wore them down. Our endurance was the difference in the game," LaRose said.

Shannawi then gave PHS a two-goal cushion at 34:44. Ethan Votraw, left alone on the right side, dribbled into the box and laid a pass off to Shannawi, who was wide open just above the penalty-kick line. Shannawi ripped a shot into the right-side netting.

Shannawi missed another two minutes later when his shot skimmed off the crossbar.

Plattsburgh went on to outshoot Potsdam 11-2 with Steinberg credited with eight saves.

"Potsdam tries to force play into the middle whereas we like to spread things out and take control with our passing," LaRose said. "Kirk and Knight are very good working the outside, and once Wyand and Shannawi took control of midfield play, it really opened things up for us. The foot skills of Bennett and Conroy frustrated Potsdam all night."

Brandon Dunham, Ethan Crockett, Mack Kilkeary and Fred Ritter all were solid defensively for the Hornets.

"And Evan Cobb and Ethan Votraw gave us a big lift off the bench," LaRose continued. "Not long after Cobb came in we scored our first goal, and Votraw set up the second."

Plattsburgh High 2, Potsdam 0



Second half- 1, PHS, Bennett(Conroy), 20:44. 2, PHS, Shannawi (Votraw), 34:44.

Shots: PHS 11, Potsdam 2.

Saves: Lavarnway, PHS, 2; Steinberg, Pots, 8.

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