In the end, the weather and history were too much for the Schenectady boys’ soccer team to overcome Thursday.
The Patriots held Shaker in check for the first 40 minutes of their Class AA boys’ soccer playoff opener. But as the temperature continued to drop and snow began to fall harder, the Patriots found it hard to get any traction on the Larry Mulvaney Field artificial turf as Shaker pumped in five goals and held Schenectady scoreless.
Three of those scores came in the final 8:15, including one with two seconds to play, as the Patriots pushed forward looking to get back into the game.
“We knew it could snow, but not like this,” said Schenectady coach Terry Sloan, whose main offensive threats are players native to more temperate climates. “We were out yesterday in the weather, and I made them go T-shirts only, no sweatshirts, to get a little preview of what it would be like. Our kids don’t necessarily like playing in this type of weather.”
Striker Emanuel Nelson had trouble both with the footing and the attention he drew from the Blue Bison defense as Schenectady lost its postseason opener for the 12th consecutive year, all against Suburban Council teams.
“It was tough, trying to change direction. And I always had two or three defenders around me. Anywhere I moved, someone was there. One against three, that’s tough to score like that,” said Nelson, a native of Ghana who finished his senior year with a school-record 28 goals.
“It’s tough to score goals like that. Everybody depends on me to score, but it was hard today.”
“I thought they held possession in the first half, and we did what we needed to do,” said Sloan, who saw his team grow more uncomfortable as the game went on. “I almost wish we didn’t have a halftime, or just had a two-minute break and kept on playing. We came in, got warm, and I think it turned out to be detrimental. The kids felt more cold when they went back out.”
Shaker’s James Lincoln opened the scoring 1:45 into the second half, and closed the game with a goal. Mike Whitcomb, Ryan Casserly and Conor Cahalan all added goals as the 9-6-2 Blue Bison advanced to a Monday quarterfinal against either CBA or Colonie
“It’s tough, playing as it gets colder,” said Lincoln. “We’ve been waiting for sectionals to come around so we could really show everybody what we’ve got. Our record wasn’t as good as we hoped it would be, but we’re ready to do something.”
Roberts, originally from Jamaica, missed nearly all the second half, and Nelson came out later in the half after a collision with a Shaker defender.
The second goal made the difference.
“Until then, there’s a still a chance Manny can get behind the defense and get one in,” said Sloan.
“That would have helped, because maybe they would have pulled one guy off me, and I would have had more room,” said Nelson.
Sloan has most of the team returning next fall from a group that finished 10-5-2. The Patriots went 9-5-2 in the Big 10, just shy of second-place Troy and four points behind league champ Albany. “It’s the best season we’ve had since 2001 when they won the Big 10 title,” he said. “We’ve had some milestones. Manny broke the school record, and he’ll be in the [Section II] record book, because he’s got over 60 for his career.”
Nelson was happy with his senior year, but wanted it to continue.
“We had a good year, winning 10 games,” he said. “I came to win today. I played my best. I don’t like losing.”
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports