The goal is always a long-range one for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys’ soccer team.
Wins like Monday’ 2-0 victory over reigning Class AA co-champion Ballston Spa figure into that process, as the Spartans look down the road to the Class A sectionals.
“We want to play well and win as many games against ‘AA’ teams to show we can be play against anyone going into sectionals,” said Burnt Hills captain Sean Kenney, who had the only goal from play when he redirected home a corner kick. “Most of our games are against Class AA schools, so those wins are big.
“They [Ballston Spa] got us twice last year. It was nice to beat them.”
Burnt Hills coach Roy Pfeil likes what his team has shown him midway through the season.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors and a lot of sophomores. The sophomores have been playing well, and the seniors are playing the way we thought they could,” said Pfeil, whose team is 5-3-0 and needs one more win to equal last year’s regular-season total.
Burnt Hills, one of three Class A schools in the 12-team large school Suburban Council, has beaten four Class AA teams so far, including both of last year’s sectional co-champions, Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs.
The three losses came consecutively to Shaker, Niskayuna and Bethlehem in a span of six days. All three games were on the road, and the worst scoreline was a 3-0 loss at Bethlehem.
“We’ve given everybody we’ve played fits. Even in that Bethlehem game, I thought we played well,” Pfeil said. “We gave up a goal early, and another came on a penalty kick. I’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve played.”
Monday’s win was the fourth straight for Burnt Hills, and showcased the team’s ability to play as a unit.
“We played well today,” said Kenney. “Our passing was good. We were looking for each other.”
Kenney, Tim Hughes, Connor Clune and Brian Pfeil worked hard through the middle of the field to gain and maintain possession, and also used the flanks to break down the Scotties’ defense.
Kenney’s goal came in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Ryan Capron drove a corner kick to the near post, and Kenney got to the ball first, knocking it past Ballston Spa goaltender Evan Mendez.
“I connected pretty good when I hit it,” Kenney said. “I was just glad it got over the goal line. He [Mendez] is tough to beat, so we knew we weren’t going to get a lot of goals.”
Mendez is one of three starters back from last year’s sectional championship game, a 1-1 draw that saw Saratoga advance to regional play through penalty kicks.
“We lost eight starters, so we’re still working on things,” said Mendez, a senior who has committed to Harvard University “There’s some technical things we need to fix, and we’re still trying to find the right combination on offense.”
The 3-3-1 Scotties were shut out for the second straight game, and fourth overall. Burnt Hills central defenders Mike Mastroianni and Jayson Sullivan did a good job of accounting for Connor Preece, who has scored six of Ballston Spa’s seven goals this season.
“They did a good job in back,” said Pfeil. “And they can get involved in the offense, too. Blake Jackson, our right back, and Jayson Sullivan both have great speed.”
Burnt Hills got a second goal when Hughes converted a penalty kick late in the second half.
The win gives the Spartans added momentum going into Wednesday’s game against SC North leader Shenendehowa.
“If we keep playing our game, passing the ball, looking for each other, we’ll be fine,” said Pfeil. “The big thing I tell them is that if we lose a game, we need to learn from our mistakes.
“We want to play well all season, but the goal is to get ready to play well in the Class A sectionals.”
“Last season ended sooner than we wanted it to,” said Kenney, of the Spartans’ second-round loss to losing finalist Ichabod Crane. “The seniors would really like to win a sectional championship”
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Categories: -Sports, High School Sports