SYRACUSE, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — The road to SUNY Cortland and a Section III girls’ soccer championship began on Sunday, when the coaches got together for the annual sectional seeding meeting.

In all, 24 teams over six classes will be fighting over the next two weeks for the right to step onto the pitch at SUNY Cortland for the right to call themselves Section III Champions.

Only two large schools managed to make it to their respective tournaments, one of them being RFA in Class AAA. The Black Knights finished their season with back-to-back losses — including a loss to Class AA Whitesboro (the other large-school qualifier) to finish 9-7, three games behind top-seeded Cicero-North Syracuse. Led by goaltender Mikayla McPheron — who only allowed 16 goals in 125 shots — the Black Knights will battle with the team they tied with in the standings: 9-7 Syracuse United, whom RFA will host on tiebreakers. Syracuse United finished with back-to-back wins and three wins in their last four to get into the playoffs.

The Warriors bounced back from a three-game losing streak to take back-to-back wins over RFA and Camden to finish 10-6, good enough for the fourth seed in the Class AA playoffs. The Warriors can boast five players that have scored over 10 points in 2023, led by senior midfielder Hannah Phillips, who has racked up 32 points. Phillips has also scored multiple goals the last three times she has found herself on the scoresheet, including a hat trick against Holland Patent on October 3. Whitesboro will welcome the Watertown Cyclones to Wadas Field on Thursday, October 19. The Cyclones have won three of their last four to finish 11-3-2.

In Class A, undefeated, defending state runner-up New Hartford find themselves in a familiar, yet unfamiliar position: with a first-round bye, but not on top of the bracket. Despite rattling off 12 straight wins after a tie against Goshen on September 10, the Spartans find themselves in the second slot, behind top seeded Westhill. Offensively, the Spartans are led by five different 20-point scorers, including Elizabeth Rayhill (27), Caroline Sekula (31) and Maddie Truax (36). Defensively, the Spartans can take their pick from a trio of goaltenders, including Abby O’Connor, who has just allowed one goal this season. Even with the second seed, New Hartford will still enjoy a first round bye, awaiting the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Chittenango and Homer.

The only all-local matchup in Class A’s first round will be in Ilion on Tuesday, October 17 when Central Valley Academy faces Oneida. The Thunder have won five of their last six games to finish 11-4-1, while Oneida managed to grab two wins in their last five games to finish 2-14. In their two games this season, the Thunder outscored the Express, 12-3, including a 9-2 victory in Oneida on September 12. Izzy Terzioski has not allowed a goal all season, while Sophia Watkins is far and away their leading scorer, with 59 points this season. The winner of this game will travel to Jamesville-DeWitt on Thursday, October 19 to face the Red Rams.

The VVS Red Devils finished in the middle of the pack, but gained some momentum going into the playoffs with a last-day win over Camden to finish 7-8-1. Goalkeeper Emma Dam has only allowed 10 goals all season, while Eva Croft leads all scorers in points and goals with 23 and nine, respectively. They will travel to Cortland to take on the Purple Tigers on Wednesday, October 17. The Tigers skidded into the playoffs, losing three of their last five to finish 6-9-1.

The contenders in Class B are all chasing 14-2 Lowville, the highest of those being sixth-seeded Holland Patent. The Golden Knights finished their season winning five out of their last seven games to finish 10-5-1. Goaltender Isabella Hobin has stopped 85% of the shots she faced this season, while Natalie Rubas and Brianna Mullins have combined for 43 points this season. They will host 11th-seeded General Brown on Tuesday, October 17. The Lions started the season 3-1, but finished it 2-5-1 to finish 7-7-1.

Eighth-seeded Clinton started the season 4-1 before going on an 0-4-1 streak after that. However, the Comets managed to bounce back, going 3-0-1 to finish 7-5-2. They are led by senior Lydia DeTraglia, who has scored at least one goal in her last four games and has racked up 47 total points. They will start their playoff run with the same team they ended their regular season with: Canastota, who tied the Comets on October 13. The Raiders have gone 7-0-2 since September 25.

Herkimer made the move from Class C to Class B for girls’ soccer this season, and have done well in their first season, going 2-1-1 in their last four to earn the 12th seed. The Magicians are led by Leah Bray, who has 41 points this season, including at least one goal in all but three games. They will travel to Phoenix on Tuesday, October 17 to face the Firebirds, who come in winners of back-to-back games.

Adirondack was very streaky in the home stretch, either being shut out by or shutting out their opponents to finish 5-11 and earn the 13th seed in the Class B playoffs. The Wildcats’ offense runs through sophomore midfielder Skyler Green, whose high point this season came when she scored five goals in a 10-0 win over the Utica Academy of Science. Green has 13 goals — nine of them coming in just two games — and 28 points in 2023. The Wildcats will go to Syracuse on Tuesday when they play CBA.

Undefeated Sauquoit Valley ran through their schedule this season, including winning six straight to round out their campaign. The Red Hawks have six players that have scored over ten points this season and five that have scored over 25. Their leading scorer is senior forward Olivia Kalil, who has three hat tricks this season en route to a 22-goal, 55-point season. They await the winner of 17th-seeded Stockbridge Valley and 16th-seeded Bishop Grimes, whom they will play on Thursday, October 19.

Frankfort-Schuyler and Cooperstown also earned first round byes in the Class C playoffs. The Maroon Knights finished their season winning four of their last five games including shutout wins over Adirondack and Little Falls. Both Frankfort-Schuyler goaltenders have stopped over 87 percent of their shots this season, while Madison Kelly scored 30 goals exactly en route to a 69-point season. The Maroon Knights await the winner of South Lewis and Waterville, whom they will play on Thursday, October 19.

The Hawkeyes were no slouches either, winning their last three in a row and six out of their last seven to finish with a 12-3-1 record. Cooperstown goaltenders have allowed just 20 goals this season, while senior Sophia Hotaling has a point in every game this season — as well as three four-goal games — to lead the team with 55 points. The Hawkeyes will face the winner of Watertown IHC and Sandy Creek on Thursday, October 19.

Two high-seeded teams who didn’t get byes this year are fifth-seeded Westmoreland and fourth-seeded Hamilton. The Bulldogs tailed off near the end of the season, losing three out of their last five to finish 11-4. Junior Samantha Ferguson has racked up 51 points this year, including a six-goal outburst in a 12-5 win over Waterville. They will host the 12th seeded Pulaski Blue Devils, who have won three of their last four.

The Emerald Knights blew through their competition en route to a 14-1-1 season. Their only blemish was a late-season, one-goal loss to Class D powerhouse Poland. Chloe and Kristen LaFrance — along with Reagan Hope — have been leaders for the Emerald Knights, combining for 72 points, while sophomore Logan Langel equaled them almost singlehandedly, racking up 55 points. The Emerald Knights will welcome 13th-seeded Tully to Hamilton on Thursday, October 19.

The only all-local matchup in Class C will involve seventh-seeded Mount Markham taking on tenth-seeded Dolgeville. The two teams have met twice during the regular season, including the first game of the season with the Mustangs taking both games by a combined score of 4-1. The goaltenders for both teams — Shelby Clark for the Mustangs and Brooke Swartz for the Blue Devils — have saved over 80 percent of their shots, while Maggie Plummer leads all scorers with 34 points for the Mustangs. These two teams will meet for the third time this season at Mount Markham High School on Thursday, October 19.

11th seeded West Canada Valley has won three of their last four going into their playoff game, with three 1-0 games and one 1-1 tie. They are led by freshman Leila Selimovic, who has 38 points, including an eight point game in a 5-3 win over Oriskany. They will face off against sixth-seeded Beaver River on Thursday, who have won nine straight games, outscoring their opponents 32-1 in that streak.

The Waterville Eagles slipped down the ladder in the Class C playoffs in the last week, losing three straight games by a combined 22-0 to finish at 6-10. Goaltender Kayle Roberts has saved 300 shots this season, only allowing 67 goals, while freshman Kylee Ford has two 14-point performances this season en route to 33 goals and 69 points. They will host South Lewis on Tuesday, October 17 for the right to face Frankfort-Schuyler.

In Class D, the Poland Tornadoes continue to stand atop the local standings, and this year is no different, as they won their last five games to finish 10-5-1. After starting the season 0-4, the Tornadoes went on a tear, only losing a game to Class C top seed Sauquoit Valley before going 10-1-1. Junior Lily Martin has an eight-game scoring streak, while goaltender Zyanna Irving-Summers has saved 80 percent of the shots she’s faced this season. The Tornadoes will welcome the Lyme Lakers to Poland for their first-round game on Thursday, October 19.

The local matchup in Class D pits 11th-seeded Utica Notre Dame against sixth-seeded Oriskany. The Jugglers have lost their last five games going into the playoffs, while Oriskany has lost two of their last four. Paige Trevisani leads all Jugglers with eight goals, while Alivia Rizzo leads Oriskany with nine. The two will meet each other on Thursday in Oriskany.

Two of the northern teams — Remsen and Town of Webb — find themselves in the Class D bracket as well, at numbers seven and 15, respectively. The Rams have hit a bit of a skid, losing their last four games of the season to finish 7-9. They are led by sophomore Emily Shufelt, who racked up 34 points. Unlike the Timberwolves, though, the Rams will host their first-round game, welcoming Belleville-Henderson to their pitch.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves bounced back from a 1-12 start to win two out of their last three games to finish 3-13. Senior Lauren Abrial leads all Timberwolves with six goals and 13 points. That performance was good enough to earn the Town of Webb the 15th seed, where they will travel to Syracuse to take on the Bishop Ludden Gaelic Knights on Thursday.

The full girls’ soccer schedule can be found below:

Class AAA

#5 Syracuse @ #4 RFA, Thursday October 19 @ 6 PM

  • Winner plays @ #1 Cicero-North Syracuse, Wednesday October 25 @ 5:30 PM @ Chittenango

Final: Friday, October 27 @ 6 PM @ SUNY Cortland

Class AA

#5 Watertown @ #4 Whitesboro, Thursday October 19 @ 5:30 PM

  • Winner plays @ #1 West Genesee, Tuesday October 24 @ 5:30 PM @ Nottingham

Final: Friday, October 27 @ 6 PM @ SUNY Cortland

Class A

#9 Vernon-Verona-Sherrill @ #8 Cortland, Tuesday, October 17 @ 6:30 PM

  • Winner plays @ #1 Westhill, Thursday October 19 @ 7 PM

#12 Oneida @ #5 Central Valley, Tuesday October 17 @ 6:30 PM

  • Winner plays @ #4 Indian River, Thursday October 19 @ 6 PM

#2 New Hartford

  • Will host winner of #10 Homer/#7 Chittenango, Thursday October 19 @ 7 PM

Final: Friday, October 27 @ 5:30 PM @ SUNY Cortland

Class B

#9 Canastota @ #8 Clinton, Tuesday, October 17 @ 3 PM

  • Winner plays @ #1 Lowville, Thursday, October 19 @ 6 PM

#12 Herkimer @ #5 Phoenix, Tuesday, October 17 @ 6 PM

#13 Adirondack @ #4 CBA, Tuesday, October 17 @ 6 PM

#11 General Brown @ #6 Holland Patent, Tuesday, October 17 @ 6:30 PM

Final: Friday, October 27 @ 7:30 @ SUNY Cortland

Class C

#1 Sauquoit Valley will host winner of #17 Bishop Grimes/#16 Stockbridge Valley, Thursday, 10/19 @ 6 PM

#12 Pulaski @ #5 Westmoreland, Thursday, October 19 @ 3 PM

#13 Tully @ #4 Hamilton, Thursday, October 19 @ 6 PM

#19 South Lewis @ #14 Waterville, Tuesday, October 17 @ 6 PM

  • Winner plays @ #3 Frankfort-Schuyler, Thursday, October 19 @ 6 PM

#11 West Canada Valley @ #6 Beaver River, Thursday, October 19 @ 6 PM

#10 Dolgeville @ #7 Mount Markham, Thursday, October 19 @ 6 PM

#2 Cooperstown will host winner of #18 Sandy Creek/#15 Watertown IHC, Thursday, October 19

Final: Saturday, October 29 @ 4:30 PM @ SUNY Cortland

Class D

#14 Lyme @ #3 Poland, Thursday October 19 @ 4 PM

#11 Utica Notre Dame @ #6 Oriskany, Thursday October 19 @ 3 PM

#10 Belleville-Henderson @ #7 Remsen, Thursday October 19 @ 3 PM

#15 Old Forge @ #2 Bishop Ludden, Tuesday, October 17 @ 6 PM

Final: Saturday, October 28 at 4 PM at SUNY Cortland