As youngsters, they dreamed about winning a state championship.
As seniors, the core of the Broadalbin-Perth boys’ soccer team is three games away from that goal after beating Foothills Council rival Johnstown, 1-0, Monday night in the Section II Class B title game at Colonie High School.
“This is what we’ve been wanting since kindergarten, when we all started playing with Fulton United,” said senior midfielder Jared Retersdorf. “We’ve been together for all these years. This is great.”
“Last year after we lost in sectionals, coach handed out these sheets, and asked us to set our goals for next year,” said Steve Sullivan, who plays in the middle, alongside Retersdorf. “Winning sectionals was one of them.”
To do that, the Patriots leaned heavily on a defense that has made a habit of shutting down opponents all year.
“We’ve only given up seven goals all year,” said sweeper Adam Hoye-Simek. “When we get a goal, it makes us play better.”
The goal came from an unexpected source, as sophomore Madison Wilcox calmly took a Caleb Gruet pass and left-footed a shot inside the far post with 15 minutes to play in the first half.
“That shows how strong our team is,” Sullivan said. “We don’t have to rely on one guy.”
“We’re very balanced, and we’re getting contributions from everybody,” said Broadalbin-Perth coach Brian Henry of his 16-1-2 team, which meets Section X champ Potsdam in a regional semifinal at Colonie at 2 p.m. Wednesday. “The youngest kid on the team got the game-winner today, and he’s our backup goalie.”
Johnstown shook off the goal and attacked the entire second half, looking to spring a forward in for a scoring chance.
The one good chance was turned aside by senior goalkeeper Jared LaPorte.
“If he hadn’t made that save, I think we’d still be playing,” said Johnstown coach Jon Jennings, who saw his team’s seven-game winning streak come to an end in the program’s initial sectional championship game.
“I was scared we’d come out a little flat. We’re a relatively young team. But our defense held their assignments, and we held strong.
“The kids will reference this for the rest of their lives. We won seven straight games, went from 1-9-2 to a sectional final. No one can take that from these kids.”
“We knew going in that Johnstown was going to give us everything they had,” said Henry, whose team did not allow a goal in three wins over the Sir Bills this season. “We were fortunate to get the first goal. I thought we did very well possessing the ball and knocking it around in the first half. We got away from that a little it in the second half, and almost paid for it.”
Simek, stopper Bryan Baia and outside backs Jared Fagan and Jason Barrett made sure the Pats would win their first sectional title since 1995.
“The backline gets overlooked,” said Henry. “Those guys are quietly doing their job, and they do it so well. We have 13 shutouts in 19 games, and have allowed only seven goals all season. We’re doing it in all aspects of the game.”
Waterford-Halfmoon will also be playing in the regionals, thanks to its 2-0 win over Voorheesville in the Class CC/C playoff that preceded the Class B title game.
Zac Lennon scored off a Fre Breen assist 41 seconds in, and set up a Chris Hunt goal 12 minutes later as the Fordians earned a return to Colonie to play Section X champ Norwood-Norfolk at noon Wednesday. Waterford was last in regional play in 1999, as the Class D champ.
“That was beautiful, scoring in the first minute,” said Hunt. “We didn’t expect to be up like that that early. We scored on the few chances we had.”
“It couldn’t have started better,” Lennon said. “We knew if we kept playing strong, we were going to win.”
Lennon and Hunt, both four-year varsity players, have been close before, seeing their previous two seasons end in the sectional finals.
“I’m glad we finally got past that curse,” said Lennon.
Waterford coach Fred Engelmann was glad to have the quick lead, but got a little nervous watching the Blackbirds apply pressure in the second half.
“We got the second goal, and after that, I think they started to play a little nervous,” said Waterford coach Fred Engelmann of his
17-2-0 Central Hudson Valley League champions. “I figured if we were up, we’ve got a good enough defense that I would take our chances.
“Connor Noel, our stopper, was playing up on Joe Cillis most of the game because we didn’t want to let him have a chance to run around free. Joe Chiera, our sweeper, is just solid back there. Jeff Ippolito and Nick Forget on the outside were solid all game.”