Spartans determined to bring home a state title
Been there, done that, doesn’t cut it for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ soccer team any longer.
“There” is the state semifinals, where the Lady Spartans have been in seven of the nine years Brian Bold has been head coach. “That” is another matter, as the Suburban Council team hasn’t won a state title since 2003 under Kevin Fitzpatrick.
“This is our program’s seventh trip up there, and we haven’t won yet. That combination of playing well and having a little bit of luck is what we haven’t had,” said Bold as the Spartans team worked out Thursday on the turf at Union College’s Frank Bailey Field, preparing for its latest semifinal.
“There’s been years we’ve played very, very well and been a bit unfortunate, and there’s been years we’ve had luck, but didn’t play well. We’ve got to combine the two.
“Do the seniors want it? Yes, they do. I think our program needs it. I’m talking about players past who did that work.”
The Lady Spartans are on their annual postseason run, one that puts an 8-7-1 Suburban Council season in the rearview mirror and puts the focus on beating Long Island champion Garden City in a 5 p.m. start today at Tompkins-Cortland Community College.
Both Bold and tri-captain Morgan Burchhardt hope the team plays with the intensity it displayed in getting past Jamesville-DeWitt in the regional semis, a result that avenged a loss at that stage in 2012.
“We need to be mentally tough, that’s the thing I’m trying to impress on the younger players,” said Burchhardt, who is making her third trip to a state final, but has yet to play in a championship game.
“I’ve been around the block in this thing, but unfortunately, come up on the wrong side,” added Burchhardt, whose first two trips to the state semis were season-enders. “We’ve got to get more mentally fit.
“In that [regional] game, we got a great effort. Even though it went to penalty kicks, I think we pretty much were in control. We’re going to try to build off that.”
“They showed that they can play in big games,” said Bold. “That regional semifinal game had more of a state final feel to it than any regional game I’ve seen in a long time. It showed that they have an edge to them.”
Twin sisters Julia and Jenna Retell have been major contributors since moving from Lansingburgh two years ago. They’re looking to make up for last season’s frustrating conclusion.
“Obviously, we anticipated this last year, but we didn’t get that kind of luck,” said Julia Retell. “It’s a good opportunity for us.
“It means a little more, because it’s our last hurrah,” said Jenna Retell, finishing the thought of her sister. “We want to go out there and play our game.”
Central midfielder Michaela Hitt, another of the six seniors Bold is likely to start against the 13-3-1 Trojans, wants what could be her final competitive game to be on Sunday.
“This weekend could be the last time I play,” she said. “I don’t know about playing at the colleges that I’m looking at.
“But I think if we play like we did in that regional game, we’ll be OK.”
Burchhardt will continue her career next year at the College of Saint Rose, but she, too, is not looking for a one day stay in the Cortland area.
“It’s weird, knowing that I won’t be wearing maroon and white anymore,” she said. “I’m not really looking at that. I’m more focused on winning the game [today], I know some of the younger kids are already looking at finals, and we don’t need to be doing that.
“I’m trying to get them to realize that we only have this game. Sunday isn’t guaranteed.”
“This group deserves it,” Bold said. “They’ve shown that they’re coachable. They’ve worked hard, and they’ve stayed the course. We struggled in the beginning of the season, but they’ve gotten better and better.”