There’s a first time for everything, and the Ballston Spa boys’ soccer team is a prime example.
The Scotties advanced to their first Section II title game as a member of the Suburban Council by knocking off defending champion Shenendehowa, 1-0, in a Class AA semifinal Tuesday night at Schuylerville High School.
Senior James Cowie scored his first goal of the season to put the Scotties into their first sectional final since they were a Class B runner-up in 1993 while a member of the Foothills Council.
Their Suburban Council rival and neighbor Saratoga Springs will provide the opposition in tonight’s 5 p.m. game at Colonie High after a 1-0 win over Niskayuna in the other half of the semifinal double-header, twice postponed by weather and moved from Colonie’s grass field earlier in the day.
The games were the first boys’ sectional contests to ever be played on artificial turf, and tonight’s title game will mark the first time two teams have played the final two games of the tournament on consecutive nights.
“It’s very exciting. This is the first time we’ve ever beaten Shenendehowa,” said second-year head coach Gary Preece. “The boys worked hard. They deserve this.”
Cowie finished a pass from Corey Stewart with 10:58 to play, picking an opportune time for the first goal of his senior year.
“He’s been working hard to come off the bench and make things happen,” said Preece. “It’s a great attribute that kids that aren’t starting come off the bench and work hard.”
Connor Preece nearly gave the 10-5-4 Scotties a lead in the closing seconds of the first half, forcing Plainsmen goalkeeper John Mabee to punch away his 20-yard blast.
“I was surprised, because I didn’t think it was going to go in. It’s amazing to be in the finals,” said Cowie, whose goal assured there will be a fifth different Class AA champion in as many years.
“The team that wanted it more won. That was apparent the second half,” said Shenendehowa coach Mike Campisi, whose team nearly had a lead 14 minutes into the second half, only to see freshman Chris Schmid’s shot bang off the post.
The 6-6-7 Plainsmen never did get the tying goal.
“It was like the bizarro year,” said Campisi, whose team produced just 31 goals this season, 12 in one game. “Our leading scorer was a freshman. That says it all right there.”
Saratoga made it to the final for the second straight year, thanks to a second-half goal from senior Bret Celeste, who finished off a restart from midfielder Morgan Smith.
“Morgan put a prefect ball in, and Eli [Sterngass] was right there to flick it on. I just tapped it in, and we held on from there,” Celeste said.
The 13-2-3 Blue Streaks survived an early scare, as Aaron Costello made a huge save seconds into the game.
“It was definitely a wakeup call,” said the senior. “I was able to make the save and push it out wide.”
Costello felt the week between the quarterfinals and semis was a factor.
“You could tell in the beginning we didn’t have the energy we usually have. If we had had a game, I think it would have kept us up, competitively,” he said. “We can’t do that in the finals. It’s important that we show up to play from the start.”
Jeff Geller has become accustomed to Costello’s heroics in his two years as Saratoga’s coach.
“He’s been our rock back there,” Geller said. “Talk about a game-changing save. We could have been down, 1-0, seconds into the game. When he makes a save like that, it lifts the entire team. That woke us up a little bit.”
Niskayuna coach Jeff Ormsbee thought his team’s missed opportunities, particularly in the firt half, cost the Silver Warriors.
“I think we controlled 60 of the 80 minutes,” he said. “We didn’t make our opportunities, and that’s going to hurt you. They made the most of their one big chance. This game can be cruel.”
Geller isn’t worried about the effects of playing on consecutive nights as the Blue Streaks play in the third Class AA final in five years.
“A lot of them play on travel teams, and they’re used to sometimes playing two times in one day. I don’t think that will be a factor,” he said. “But whoever we play will be in the same boat. Actually, we’ll have a two-hour head start in the recuperation.”
Dylan LaBadia scored a first-half goal, and Schoharie hung on to beat Section VII champ Northern Adirondack, 1-0, in a Class C regional semifinal in Plattsburgh.
The Indians will play Section X winner Madrid-Waddington on Saturday at Guilderland.
Scotia-Glenville takes on Section X’s Massena Franklin Academy in a Class A regional semi today at 5 at Schuylerville. The Tartans are coming off a 4-3 double-overtime win over Ichabod Crane in the Section II final.
Class B champ Maple Hill plays Section VII winner Northeast Clinton tonight at Plattsburgh.
Spartans move on
Freshman Morgan Burchardt, a midseason promotion from junior varsity, scored a goal and assisted on a Skye Kaler goal as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake beat Section III champ Jamesville-DeWitt, 2-0, in a girls’ Class A regional semi played at West Genessee.
Florie Comley made 19 saves as the 16-4-0 Spartans advanced to Saturday’s state quarterfinal at SUNY-Potsdam against Section X champion Massena.
Shenendehowa and Bethlehem play for the girls’ Class AA title tonight at 6 at Stillwater. The two-time defending champion Eagles beat Shenendehowa, 2-0, in the Suburban Council this season.
Schoharie and defending champion Cambridge battle for the Class C title at 4 at Stillwater.
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Categories: High School Sports