Defense keeps Eagles perfect

Anyone who believes defense does not win championships should watch the Bethlehem girls’ soccer team
Kayla Treanor of Niskayuna, right, and Michelle Primomo of Bethlehem battle for first half ball control in Wednesday Class AA sectional game held at Broadalbin.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Kayla Treanor of Niskayuna, right, and Michelle Primomo of Bethlehem battle for first half ball control in Wednesday Class AA sectional game held at Broadalbin.

Anyone who believes defense does not win championships should watch the Bethlehem girls’ soccer team in action.

The Eagles went to 21-0-0 Wednesday night, posting their 17th shutout in beating Niskayuna, 2-0, for the Section II Class AA title. Taylor Teal knocked in a Megan Olsen corner kick midway through the first half, and Emily Rudolph added a goal with nine seconds to play as Bethlehem won its first outright title since 2002.

“We’ve talked for years about winning games, 1-0, and understanding how to play differently, depending on the score,” said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan, whose teams now have won a pair of titles and shared another in seven trips to the finals in this decade. “If you look back over the last several years, we’ve won a lot of games 1-0. So, there is a comfort there that our defense will be able to win those 1-0 games.”

The win helped Bethlehem erase the sting of seeing the past two seasons end in the penalty-kick tiebreaker against the same team, on the same Broadalbin-Perth field, including the 2006 Class AA final.

“We thought, ‘This has happened one too many times. We need to get past it,’ ” said Teal “This feels really good.”

“It’s definitely a much different feeling,” said center back Anna Gray, as she clutched a white championship patch. “This was our goal this year.”

The efforts of Gray, fellow center back

Michelle Primomo and outside backs Maddie Petraglia and Ally Swiatowicz kept Niskay­una’s Whitney Frary in check, and made life easy for senior goalie Kiersten Swete, whose work consisted mainly of handling shots from 18 yards and out.

Bethlehem has permitted only four goals this year, never more than one in a game.

“They are just so consistently playing at a high level,” said Rogan of his defense. “You feel very comfortable with them there.

“I don’t sub for the defense very often, if at all. Again tonight, they all played 80 minutes, and if the game had gone to overtime, they would have played 110 minutes.”

Regulation time was enough to convince Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby that this time the Eagles had his team’s number.

“I think Bethlehem looked fresher. I think they handled their semi­final better than we did,” said Colby, whose team won the very compet­itive Suburban Council North Div­ision title and was seeded second to the Eagles. “We lost two starters in that game, and I think we were tired. We didn’t have that jump.

“But they are a very, very good team. I think they have a real chance at winning a state title.”

With Teal, Olsen, Kaitlyn Martin, Kristina Maksuti and Kristie Link providing consistent scoring, the Eagles are strong at both ends of the field.

“When we score, coach tells us the game is won if we can keep the ball out of the net,” said Swete. “It’s the whole team working together as one unit.”

“The four of us back there really trust each other,” said Gray. “This is the second year we’ve all been back there together, and we know how each other plays. We trust the forwards to score goals, and they trust us not to give up any goals.”

Niskayuna’s defenders did a good job , as well. Senior Erica Ottaviano joined sophomores Kerri Valero and Schuyler Archambault in limiting the Eagles’ chances.

“I thought our back three played really well,” said Colby, who started five sophomores and a freshman. “We matched up one-on-one against them, and gave up almost no opportunities to a very good team.”

Bethlehem moves on to Saturday’s regional final. The Eagles get Section III champion Baldwinsville at 3 p.m. at Chittenango, with a spot in next weekend’s state final four on the line.

STILLWATER FALLS

Stillwater saw its season end in the Class CC/C playoff, as Maple Hill scored four straight second-half goals in a 4-2 win in the game preceding the large-school championship.

After taking a halfime lead on a goal by Amanda Hathaway, the Warriors’ offense couldn’t solve the Wildcats’ offsides trap in the second 40 minutes.

“We knew about the offisdes trap,” said Stillwater coach Jackie Blake, whose Warriors finished 19-1-2. “We practiced it. We talked about it. We told them they needed to be aware of it, but they didn’t adjust to it during the game. I thought that was the difference in the game.

“It’s disappointing, but.this doesn’t lessen the year. We had never won a [Wasaren] league title before. We won a sectional title.”

The 18-3-1 Wildcats had four different players score goals, with freshman Meeghan Arno getting a goal and assist.

“We’re the little team that could,” said Wildcats’ coach Sheila Golden, who has only three seniors on her roster. “At halftime, I told them to keep their composure. They were letting them knock us right out of our game.”

The 18-3-1 Wildcats return to Broadalbin-Perth for Saturday’s state quarterfinal against Section VII champ Seton Catholic. That game will be at 3 p.m., preceded by the 1 p.m. “D” regional final matching Section II champ Northville and S.S. Seward of Section IX.

MOHONASEN ADVANCES

The Mohonasen boys continued the best postseason run in school history by beating Section III champ Fulton, 3-1, Wednesday night in a regional semifinal.

The Mighty Warriors began the game as they did their sectional final win over Schalmont, taking a lead when Trey Jasenski finished a free kick by A.J. Prezkop.

Felix Bransch set up Steven Coughlin’s game-winner with nine minutes to go, and added an insurance goal in the final minute, with Jasenski assisting.

Mohonasen will play in its first state quarterfinal on Saturday, meeting Section IX champ Massena at

2 p.m. at Potsdam High School.

Categories: High School Sports

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