Streaks building on experience in boys’ soccer (with photo gallery)

One-quarter of the way through the regular season, both Guilderland and Saratoga Springs are works i

One-quarter of the way through the regular season, both Guilderland and Saratoga Springs are works in progress.

The Blue Streaks looked a little more refined Tuesday, as they posted a 1-0 Suburban Council boys’ soccer win over the defending league and Class AA champions.

“It’s coming along,” said first-year Saratoga coach Jeff Geller, whose team used a second-half penalty kick conversion by Noah Cadet to take the win. “The goal is to get better each time out, and be ready for sectionals.”

The win, on the first day of interdivisional competition in the SC, left the Streaks with a 3-1-0 record. Guilderland suffered its first loss to go with a tie in four starts, but was shut out for the second time in three games.

“Right now, we don’t have that leadership,” said Dutchmen coach Mike Kinnally, whose team has alternated three-goal games with zeroes thus far. “We lost so many starters, and so many seniors, from last year’s team that had that type of personality. We don’t have one of those yet.”

Geller, on the other hand, has experienced players at both ends and at midfield.

Caz Refalik helps anchor the defense in front of goalkeeper Aaron Costello; Cadet, Pete Walsh and Tristan Frey supply exper­ience in the midfielder; and Will Johns and Cameron Akey are among the lettermen up front.

“The spine of the team is solid,” said Geller, referring to the players in the middle of the field. “A lot of them are seniors, and they’ve played together for years.

“It’s great to have the seniors, but they’re only going to be here one year. I know most of the players, from JV and club soccer, so that transition has gone well.”

That’s experience Kinnally doesn’t have, though goalkeeper Devin Bailey and the defense have allowed only one goal from play in the four games.

“We’ve only got three or four players back who started or played a lot last year,”Kinnally said. “Now, they’re in starting roles, and it’s a little different.

“Technically, I think we’re as good as anyone. But I don’t know if they’re buying into the system yet.”

Cadet had the only chance of the first half, ripping a low direct kick that Bailey handled.

The senior, who was named to the Capital District Class AA all-star team last fall, continually tried to play his forwards behind the Guilderland defense with passes that found the gaps. But nothing dangerous came of it.

The game’s only goal came when the Blue Streaks strung together a few passes, and Johns lead Dylan MacVane into the penalty area. MacVane was taken down, and Cadet gave Bailey no chance on the free shot from the penalty spot.

The teams battled for possession in the middle of the field for much of the second half as well, before Guilderland tried to ratchet up the pressure in the closing minutes.

The Saratoga defense, in partic­ular Refalik and Eli Sterngass, was up to the task.

“We beat Niskayuna, 1-0, in our first game, changed some things around a little, then we lost to Ballston Spa (2-1) and made some changes in our formation before we played Shaker,” said Geller. “That seemed to work, because we beat them, 4-0.

“Today was a typical Suburban Council game. It was two teams battling each other, both playing physical. We were able to get the win.”

“We’re not making good dec­isions,” said Kinnally, whose team went through the 2008 league schedule unbeaten, and saw an unbeaten run end in the state quarterfinals. “One time, we kept dribbling when he had five players in the box and needed the ball played in to one of them.

“Sometimes, we’re not real decisive when we do make a pass. It hasn’t come together yet.”

Saratoga plays at Bethlehem on Thursday. The Dutchmen host Shaker.

“It will be another good test,” said Geller.

“I still think we’re in the top one-third of the teams in the league,” said Kinnally. “I think, with the exception of Shenendehowa, which has gotten better, the league is down a little. So, we’re not out of it.

“But we have to find a way to produce goals. Right now, I don’t see that one kid stepping up. I think we’re going to have to spread it around.”

Categories: High School Sports, Sports


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