By Michael Lewis
It was about a half hour after classes ended at the Spencerport High School, but school still was in session for one rookie sportswriter on one cold, November day.
His teacher was a renowned soccer coach who was going to review the lone goal scored in Spencerport’s 1-0 victory over Penfield in the Section V Class A championship game at St. John Fisher College Nov. 9, 1974. Broadbent recently passed away, it was announced Wednesday. He was 86.
The goal was a controversial one, but still counted as the Rangers earned their fifth successive sectional crown.
“I’d have to say this win feels the most satisfying,” Spencerport boys soccer coach Ron Broadbent told the first-year reporter that Saturday. His Rangers shut out Penfield for the first time that year.
“It’s because of two things. One, we won the title by ourselves this year.”
Spencerport (17-1-1) and Greece Arcadia played to a scoreless draw in 1973 and shared Class A honors.
“And two, we’ve taken a lot of degrading from the so-called soccer experts in this area on our style of play,” Broadbent said.
(No, I was not a soccer expert. I was a novice in the game, and it was two months before I learned I was going to cover the Rochester Lancers, which was going to change my life in a major way).
Like it or not, Spencerport had picked up the reputation as being a physical team and that type of play led to the goal.
This is how the, ahem, lone Ranger goal was scored:
Forward Jim Berardicurti sent a pass to midfielder Ken Tanner, who fired a shot toward the upper right corner of the net. Penfield goalkeeper Roy Riley (13 shutouts) leapt for the ball and caught it until he collided with Rick Kincaid on the way down.
“I gambled on that play,” Kincaid told me. “The ball was there, but nobody from Spencerport was. You can’t let an opportunity go by like that. I hit it in with my body.”
The ball barely crossed the goal line. A Penfield player kicked the ball out of the net, but the damage already had been done.
Penfield coach George Steitz, who used basketball players on his corner kick team, claimed that Spencerport’s ruggedness was nothing new.
“They did this to Greece Olympia and to Webster,” he said. “They pound your goalie to death. I told the refs about it before the game, but they didn’t do much about it.”
Broadbent said he thought “there was simultaneous contact.”
“The referees were right on the play,” he added. “It was only two feet across the line, but it was a score. We had numerous opportunities later in the game, but Penfield kept us out of their goal. They’re a great defensive team.”
Riley made 10 saves and Spencerport goalkeeper Jeff Farnsworth, who later would coach the high school and become United Soccer Coaches president himself, registered five saves for the clean sheet.
Since it was a Saturday morning game, I rushed back to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, typed up the story (yes, this was in the stone age and computers) and then went out to cover a football game that afternoon, East Rochester against Fairport in the annual Little Brown Jug game, a football derby.
A few days later Spencerport boys soccer coach Ron Broadbent invited this writer, only five months into his sports writing career, to watch the goal again on game film at the school. Yes, it was game film. These were the days prior to video and well before phone videos that can go viral in a matter of minutes.
Broadbent replayed the play on the goal several times as he made a case that it was a clean play. It gave me a lesson or two in soccer on how close plays can be from being called a goal or a foul.
I did not write a story about it, but I appreciated Ron taking time out of his day to educate a writer.
Spencerport and Broadbent received more good news when they were told the school was ranked atop the New York State sportswriters poll.
“We deserve to be ranked first,” Broadbent said. “With all the criticism we’ve had for rough play in the finals against Penfield, we’re glad something good has happened to us.
“The films we took of the game show that we were the better tea. The goal was correct.”
Our paths crossed six years later when Broadbent became coach at Brockport State. You can guess who broke that story.
By then Broadbent’s legacy had been established. He had guided the Rangers to seven Section V titles, 10 Monroe County League crowns. He directed the Region 6 team to a silver medal at the 1978 Empire State Games and was named the National High School Coaches Athletic Association soccer coach of the year in 1980.
He was named Brockport coach July 14, a little more than a month before preseason training. His challenge was to turn around a once proud program he helped become a national power as a player back into a respectable side. The Golden Eagles produced several professional soccer players, including Alain Maca, the first player drafted in the North American Soccer League and former Rochester Lancers defender Nelson Cupello, who went onto coach Monroe Community College for several decades.
Brockport was coming off a rather ragged 3-8-4 mark.
“That’s one of the problems getting here so late,” Broadbent said. “We’re going to have to scramble.
“I’m not writing this year’s team off as a rebuilding year. The players have a lot of pride and talent.”
The team improved to 5-6-4, probably not where Ron wanted it, but it was in the right direction.
Through the years, I got an opportunity to see Broadbent and Farnsworth at many National Soccer Coaches Association of America (now United Soccer Coaches) conventions. The conversation invariably would head back to that game in November 1975.
The last time I saw Ron was at the 2017 coaches convention in Los Angeles after the annual awards ceremony. He, Jeff and I spoke for a few minutes. It was great catching up.
I will always be grateful to Ron for taking time out to go over a controversial play in a championship game with a writer who knew little about the beautiful game.
Little did I know it was the start of a steep hard learning curve in my soccer education.