Galway vs. Northville: Eagles close season with a flourish

When training began in August, Galway boys’ soccer tri-captain Cameron Smith wasn’t sure how the sea

When training began in August, Galway boys’ soccer tri-captain Cameron Smith wasn’t sure how the season would go for the Eagles.

“We lost some good players. We had some new kids coming up,” said Smith.

After the Eagles beat Northville, 3-0, Wednesday to finish the regular season with a 12-1-3 record — best in the Western Athletic Conference — Smith has raised his expectations.

“Win states,” he said, only half-jokingly.

The Eagles have not missed a beat as Rob Martin succeeded Neal Evans as head coach, and went 11-0-2 over their final 13 regular-season games, concluding with a win over the team that handed them their only loss.

“It’s been great,” said senior tri-captain Jacob Miller of the change in coaching. “We had him [Martin] for JV, so this is the third year we’ve had him for a coach. He’s done a great job.”

Martin, who played for Evans at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake before serving as his JV coach, tried not to change much.

“I’ve had a lot of these guys since they were freshmen. They know what I like, and it’s not a lot different that what Neal had asked of them in the past,” said Martin. “So, we’re playing the same type of game they’d played in the past.

“I just ask them to go out and play hard every game, to go out and put out as much effort as they can, and play as smart as they can.”

The Eagles were held to a tie by Canajoharie in their league opener. After a win at Fort Plain, Galway fell at Northville, 2-0.

“We lost to Northville early in the year, but as the season progressed, things kind of got rolling,” said Smith.

Martin pointed to a 5-2 win that followed the loss to Northville as a major step to getting the Eagles where they are.

“I think a turning point was when we played our first game against Mayfield and beat them here,” he said. “Cameron went out with a concussion against Northville. And Shane [goalkeeper Shane Marshall] was out with a concussion. Mayfield was the game after that, so that was a turning point. We got a good win against them, and continued to win.”

The Eagles’ consistency allowed them to shake off season-long challenges by Northville and Mayfield for the North title. The Falcons finished 8-6-1 with Wednesday’s loss.

Senior defender Brandon Aschmutat, the third tri-captain, felt the competition in the league brought out the best in his teammates.

“The WAC’s a good league with tough competition. You have to rise to the occasion,” he said.

Junior Josh Bailey, the team’s leading scorer, had a goal and an assist Wednesday, as did junior midfielder Ryan Pappalau. Smith closed the scoring.

Getting goals from three different players, two of them underclassmen, was typical for the Eagles.

“Our leading scorer is a junior. Most of our other guys who have scored are sophomores,” said Martin. “Jacob Miller is the one senior who has been doing some scoring.

“Middleburgh put two people on Josh Bailey, and that was another turning point in that we had to recognize that when that happened, we had to get the ball to the open man.”

All of this has the Eagles looking for a postseason run, though his fellow captains might be more reserved than Smith.

“Sectionals, that’s what I’m worrying about,” said Miller.

“We’d love to win states, but we’ve got to take it one game at a time,” said Aschmutat.

Smith summed up the reason for reassessing his team’s chances.

“I guess we kind of underestimated them,” he said of the underclassmen. “But they’ve stepped up.”

Categories: -Sports, High School Sports

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