The Cottage School Cougars defeated the AASD Panthers 6-3 in the AAC semifinals to secure their place in the championship game on Monday. TCS will face Mill Springs at Waller Park at 3:15 PM. The two AAC rivals will meet with the Cougars looking to secure their fourth consecutive conference title.
The Cougars started the semifinal match with the majority of possession, and they passed the ball around the Panther defense with confidence. Though they created several golden scoring chances, they were unable to finish. Maria Knezek, Ruslan van Kesteren, and Tim Mattioli led the way offensively, with DJ Donaldson, Elijah Joiner, and Shane Hendrickson providing support from the midfield. Despite their possession advantage, the Cougars found themselves down a goal early after an AASD attacker weaved through multiple defenders on his way to scoring an impressive opener. Unfortunately for AASD, the Cougars were not about to let this playoff game slip away, and they responded with force.
Elijah Joiner scored his first goal of the season and tied the game when he outleaped the entire Panther defense to head the ball in off of a cross from Shane Hendrickson. With their opening goal now out of the way, the flood gates were open for the Cougar attack. Ruslan van Kesteren was next to get on the scoresheet, followed quickly by Dalton Lantz with an assist from Daniel Byman. Tim Mattioli then got a goal of his own, followed by two quick strikes from Daniel Byman. In a matter of 20 minutes, the Cougars had scored 6 goals and stunned the Panthers.
The offensive attack was supported by Paul Altermatt, Liam Walsh, Reese Silverman, and Colton Parks. Javier Cremer, Schuyler Nebel, and Nick Rice added midfield cover, including providing several key passes that led to great scoring chances. On the defensive end, the Cougars rock solid defense was comprised of Emma Altermatt, Kyle Kimble, Toby Nwokedi, Dustin Bartolome-Behrens, Matthew Placide, and Mitchell Starks.
Starting the second half with a 6-1 lead, the Cougars were able to rotate positions and allow everyone to get substantial playing time. Aidan Briggs escaped from between the sticks and nearly scored a goal as a striker. Alex Yager dribbled the ball past a defender and was in on goal with just the goalie to beat, but his final shot was stopped by a tremendous save. And Bryce Dickerson ran himself into the ground during his time on the field, nearly scoring an impressive volleyed goal. Though the Panthers were able to score 2 second half goals, the Cougars were able to comfortably hang on to their lead and see the game out.
Though they had just earned another AAC Championship appearance, there were no celebrations from the Cougars on Thursday. Immediately after the final whistle, all attention turned to the final vs Mill Springs. We are focused and ready. Hope to see you at Waller Park on Monday!